Local 21 Everyday Heroes Respond to San Jose Flood

Late February, as thousands of South Bay residents evacuated neighborhoods during heavy rain and flooding, Local 21 members prepared for the storm, kept the region updated, sheltered those affected, and repaired communities afterward.

Local 21 AEA (Association of Engineers & Architects)chapter members provided technical assistance in response to the flood. The members were from various departments in the City of San Jose, including Transportation, Public Works and Environmental Services, and others.

Steven Pagan, senior civil engineer in the Public Works Department and Local 21 AEA President, covered a 7-hour graveyard shift at the DOT (Department of Transportation) 's Department Operation Center, gathering data from fellow CAMP (City Association of Management Personnel) members. The CAMP members had staff drive the Coyote Creek corridor to collect real-time information about the limits of the flood and street closures. The next night, Steven covered another 12-hour graveyard shift at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) to coordinate post-flood response with and the EOC manager other City departments.  Many AEA and CAMP members willingly volunteered to work long work days to help the City respond to this crisis.

Aaron Baker, Water Supply Operations Manager at the Santa Clara Valley Water District and Local 21 PMA (Professional Management Association) member, did critical emergency work, repairing a breach in the Coyote Canal on Morgan Hill. The breach had completely flooded all northbound lanes of Highway 101 and shut down traffic for about 24 hours just south of San Jose.  Aaron and his team successfully diverted the flows back into Coyote Creek by creating a new break upstream of the area where the canal first breached, and building a berm to prevent water overflow onto Highway 101.

Local 21 AMSP (Association of Maintenance Supervisory Personnel) membersat San Jose’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility monitored the increased incoming flow of storm run-off and made sure it didn’t overrun the sewage treatment operation.  The Facility cleans and treats sewage water from cities like San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas and Los Gatos.  The water is recycled for irrigation, industrial usage or released into the South San Francisco Bay.

Thank you to AEA’s Steve Pagan, AMSP’s Steve Contreras, PMA’s Gary Nagaoka and Aaron Baker, and others for compiling these stories.  We know many more Local 21 Members helped and continue to help with the flood relief — we are very proud of everyone involved.

How to Help Flood Victims:  Monetary donations are the most needed.  To help those displaced with rebuilding, please donate to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s San Jose Flood Victims Relief Fund.