San Diego Braces for Christmas Week Storm

Local cities and counties try to take proactive measures to prepare

NBC Universal, Inc.

There is no doubt San Diego and California needs rain and snow.

There is also no doubt the rain is a pain for a lot of people.

“It is completely totally gross,” said Diane Armenta as she walked through her Shelltown backyard Wednesday.

She said the City of San Diego has an easement through her yard that includes a storm channel. Armenta said the channel is overgrown with brush and it regularly floods when it rains.

“And the odor,” she winced. “The odor is what’s even worse.”

Armenta said she has pleaded with the City of San Diego several times.

“Clean it up!” she begged. “Give me a solution. Tell me what to do. Send people down here. I need help.”

About a mile away, more Shelltown neighbors were bracing for the rain expected to hit San Diego Thursday.

“Pretty much anytime it rains, flooding occurs in this neighborhood,” said San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera as people stacked sandbags along a wall. “I’m absolutely worried about the folks in this neighborhood.”

This part of Shelltown flooded during a storm in 2018.

Elo-Rivera was in the neighborhood to encourage San Diegans to prepare as best they can.

“But that’s no way to run a city; depending on sandbags every time it rains,” he said.

Meanwhile in Barrio Logan, a City of San Diego crew was cleaning a storm drain. Those public utility crews work year-round to clean and clear the stormwater system.

“And of course, these guys are working double-duty right now,” said city spokesman Jose Ysea.

“It’s one thing to keep the storm drains clear, which is good. That’s super important city work,” said Councilman Elo-Rivera. “But we also know that our stormwater system generally is under-funded by billions of dollars.”

“It’s a costly venture but it’s something that we need to do to protect the environment,” added Ysea.

A County of San Diego spokeswoman said their crews were equally busy.

“The Dept. of Public Works transportation crews prepare for storms by clearing culverts to prevent road flooding, clearing roads impacted by snow, and our Flood Control team manages sandbags and erosion control,” said the spokeswoman.

She said the county also offered sandbags to residents, but recommended people call first to make sure supplies were still available.

The county’s second largest city was equally proactive. A City of Chula Vista spokeswoman said they prepared more than a thousand sandbags. She said their city crews also rotate around the city to clean stormwater systems all year long. She added Chula Vista also “outfitted an emergency response truck to respond to any storm related events.”

Diane Armenta appreciated all the work done by the cities and counties, but she agreed with Councilman Elo-Rivera: More needs to be done. Neither Jose Ysea nor the councilman were acutely aware of Armenta’s backyard flooding issues, but they doubted she was alone in her worries.

“There is a ton of investment still needed to be done,” said Ysea.

“I hate it when it rains,” sighed Armenta.

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