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Vacaville taking new steps to protect residents in flood-prone areas

Vacaville taking new steps to protect residents in flood-prone areas
Vacaville taking new steps to protect residents in flood-prone areas 02:13

VACAVILLE - New efforts are underway to help protect communities from the kinds of record-breaking rainfall we saw in Northern California last winter.

We're getting answers on what the City of Vacaville is doing to protect people who live in flood-prone areas.

Vacaville's Tulare Drive looked more like a lake last January, with the strong winter storms causing significant street flooding.

"The water in the middle of the street is 3 or 4 feet deep," said Neil Wakabayashi, a Vacaville homeowner.

Some people stacked sandbags around homes to help hold water back. It's not the first time this neighborhood has seen flooding from nearby Alamo Creek.

"In 2005, we were here when it did flood, and about 5 inches got in our house," said Michelle Welty, a Vacaville homeowner.

"We had about 6 inches of water in the garage," said Wakabayashi.

Last year's series of atmospheric rivers dumped four inches of rain in Vacaville in just one week.

"That's what bust the bubble, and it creates a condition where there's nowhere else for the water to go," Vacaville Public Works Director Brian McLean.

McLean says there was so much runoff in Alamo Creek that water actually started flowing backward through the underground storm drain pipes and up into the neighborhoods.

"That's a reverse flow, the creek water ends up escaping and going out into the street," said McLean.

Now the city is taking new steps to try to stop that type of flooding in the future by installing new metal gates on the pipes to prevent flows from going in the wrong direction.

"Ultimately what we're trying to do is keep the water in the creek," said McLean.

The city also has a series of stormwater detention basins to help divert excess runoff.

"It's approximately 20 feet at its deepest area," said McLean.

One basin can hold nearly five million gallons of water and was modified this year to start diverting water sooner. Engineers are also looking at adding additional storage basins - and making the existing ones deeper - all in an effort to protect homes from another flood.

"Something needed to be done and it's really nice to know that the city's taking care of that," said Welty.

Crews in Vacaville have also been working the last few months clearing debris out of creeks while water is still low and fixing erosion along the creek banks."

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