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West Portal Neighbors Blame Old Storm Drains After Heavy Rains Flooded Their Homes

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) - City officials in San Francisco admit they were overwhelmed with hundreds of calls for service, when heavy rains flooded homes in West Portal, this weekend.

Frustrated neighbors said the city should have done more to help, but a long term fix may take some time.

By Monday, the neighborhood was drying out but now that's it's been a couple days, folks are starting to ask, 'how did this happen?'

Marina Simonian has lived in West Portal for 57 years. She says she never such rain.

"I looked out the window and I couldn't see across the street, it was raining so hard!" said Simonian.

Water backed up into the homes, flooding more than a foot deep for almost a block. Residents say the storm drains are the problem. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission maintains the storm drains.

Director of Communications, Tyler Gamble agrees. The current standard is the storm drains should handle an inch and a half of rain over a three-hour period.

"There are some areas across the city that doesn't meet that level of service, like 17th and Folsom, 15th and Wawona, those neighborhoods," said Gamble. "Those are areas that we have created capital improvement projects to build out infrastructure to help meet that level of service."

When asked if they meet that level of service now, Gamble said, "They don't."

The drainpipes were too old and too small to handle Saturday's rain, rain that exceeded an inch an hour overwhelming the neighborhood.

Monday clean-up crews were busy drying out the garages, but it's not the first time to flood, says Simonian.

"This is the third time in six years," she said. "Te first time was a water main break, which was a fluke, of course, and the year after that, after we had all the homes repaired, that winter we had the same type of flooding we had last weekend."

The construction to replace the old drains isn't scheduled to start until 2021.

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