The water in the garage at Samuel Picazo’s apartment, at the corner of Folsom and 17th streets, rose so high early this morning that not even crotch-high waders could save him from getting wet.
“It was here, and then dropped, and then rose again,” he said this evening, as he pointed to what appeared to be about a three-foot water line. He noted the small blue water pump working below to spew water from his garage out to the street. It has helped him through his 35th flood in 50 years.
“He does nothing,” Picazo said of the building’s owner. “He’ll be here tomorrow to pick up the rent check.”
Picazo lives on a corner long known for flooding. It sits below sea level, and was slated for $200 million worth of work that appears not to have happened. In recent years, however, the city has started putting up storm barriers in advance of atmospheric river conditions.
That did not happen on Friday.
Around the corner on Folsom Street, at The Stable Cafe, Minah Matuszewski, a former Stable employee who bought the cafe during the pandemic, wondered why.
“Why weren’t there flood barriers up?” she asked. With the city’s barriers and her own, she said, The Stable has managed for several years to avoid the catastrophes that in 2014 forced The Stable to shut for months to replace all of the flooring.
But this year, for reasons that are unclear, the city failed to show up.
The city generally does pay extra attention to the blocks from 14th to 18th Streets between Folsom and Harrison, because they have long been a problem of the city’s own making.
The city filled the area, which was once marshland, between 1860 and 1870. Since then, it has settled, Greg Braswell, sewer information system manager for the Department of Public Works, told Mission Local earlier. “If you’re standing in the outdoor patio in the back [of Stable Café in 1870-80, you would have been 24 inches taller.”
That means there will be flooding in heavy rains.
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Matuszewski was still waiting for the city to arrive.
Nearby, Juan Gallardo, the owner of Gallardo’s restaurant at 18th and Shotwell streets, closed his restaurant early on Saturday to clean up. Although Jan. 1 is generally a good day for business, he will remain closed. “Every year we receive a notification from the city,” when it is going to be a heavy storm. This year, they did not. “Water was coming in everywhere,” he said.