County concerned about more flooding with rain

Rain expected this week has the county concerned about more potential flooding.

Recent rainfall and flooding in previous weeks caused San Benito County to declare a local emergency due to flooding in the Lovers Lane area. Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency for the county shortly after.

On Jan. 12, county inspection teams discovered a Pacheco Creek levee breach northeast of the bridge on Lovers Lane. According to the office of Emergency Services, the breach is located on private property and is about 100-feet long by 50-feet deep. Spillover from the Pacheco Reservoir also contributed to the flooding.

Last week, county officials hired two contractors to clear debris from the creek and fix the levee breach. Watsonville-based Granite Construction will handle clearing debris piles from the creek, while Salinas-based Don Chapin Co. will handle fixing the levee, according to Emergency Services Manager Kevin O’Neill. As of Feb. 1, work started on clearing debris from the creek.

It’s possible that Pacheco Creek could reach flood stage, O’Neill said Monday.

“Flood stage is the area where we know there will be some impacts,” he said.

County numbers for Pacheco Creek aren’t accurate now that debris has been cleared out, O’Neill said.

“What 12 feet meant last week is different from 12 feet this week because of the debris we’ve cleaned out of there,” he said.

O’Neill said he’s optimistic that clearing out debris from the creek is helping water levels.

“We’re optimistic the work we’re doing is helping the creek to flow better; however, the bulk of the rain is coming tonight,” O’Neill said Monday.

National Weather Service Forecaster Brian Mejia said more rain is expected tonight starting around 9 pm to 10 pm.

“Tonight we have an atmospheric river, a plume of moisture coming from the Pacific, flowing into our area and causing some rain for this evening,” Mejia said Monday. “Then by Thursday there’s a cold front approaching.”

An inch of rain is expected between today and Tuesday afternoon, Mejia said. Rain will be heaviest Monday night. The region will get a short break before the cold front moves in toward the end of the week.

Concern over potential flooding also stems from the possibility that the storm system could linger, dumping more water on the region, O’Neill said.

“If the storm system stops and just starts dumping a ton of water at Pacheco Pass, we’ll experience a high amount of rain,” he said. “Whereas if it passes through, we should be okay. We’ve done a ton of work to clear out the creek.”

While work on the creek commenced last week, the county is still working on repairing the levee.

Additionally, O’Neill also said the county has contracted with Granite Rock to fix potholes in roads damaged by recent storms. Granite Rock will first focus on the Lovers Lane area and will move south from there. Large potholes on Southside Road and Cienega Road will be worked on as well, O’Neill said.

“One thing I’d like to make sure we get out is to thank property owners for allowing us to access the creek and levee,” O’Neill said. “We very much appreciate their cooperation. We’re very thankful and would like to express our gratitude.”

Sandbags in San Benito County are located here:

Hollister Fire Dept. #2 (1000 Union Road, Hollister)

Hollister City Yard (1321 South Street, Hollister)

County Yard (3220 Southside Road, Hollister)

San Juan Bautista City Yard (Corners of Second and San Jose Streets)

Aromas Fire Station (492 Carpenteria Road, Aromas)

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