Mike Barkley — who has battled backed up storm water flooding his Sheridan Avenue apartment complex during periodic downpours for years — went to the Manteca City Council earlier this year with a simple solution.
Instead of waiting until they found money to put in place a monitoring system that could sensor system overloads and make sure releases into the storm system didn’t create problems elsewhere or spending even more money on additional storm drainage improvements, he wanted to know why they didn’t simply send someone out to manually turn valves to direct flows in and out of various storm retention basins?
Barkley accepted a council invention to discuss the matter further with Acting Public Works Director Koosun Kim.
Weeks later when the city activated the emergency operations command due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it brought representatives of city departments together. As they worked together for set periods each day, the flooding issue came up.
From that discussion an idea was born to make the city much more responsive to weather-related issues including storms sizeable enough to create localized street flooding that will sometimes intrude into homes, businesses and lawns during sudden downpours or sustained periods of rain.
Going forward when the National Weather Service predicts significant rain storms, high winds, or a heat wave those than man the EOC will quickly assess what the city can do to minimize the impact of the weather two days prior to the predicted weather event occurring.
That would include having crews ready to respond to backed up storm water releases from retention basins into the drainage system that can create problems such as what happens on Sheridan Avenue before they occur as well as alerting developers that are doing major earth work to have water trucks ready when winds or forecast to be strong enough to blow dirt.
City Manager Miranda Lutzow said staff decided it made sense to make use of the inter-department coordination the EOC offers to address weather events that don’t rise to the level of an official emergency declaration but create health and safety issues for city residents. That, she said, would allow for a coordinated and more effective city response.
It would also be used in heat waves. Besides opening the cooling center the city, as an example, the city could gear up to have volunteer groups that work under police and fire direction to do safety checks on vulnerable citizens that Manteca once did. During once such check 18 years ago they were able to intervene in time to help an elderly resident in the El Rancho Mobile Home Park that was in the early stage of heat stroke during the middle of four days of 103 degree plus heat.
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