City hires flood claim consultants

Publication Date: Friday Apr 10, 1998

FLOOD OF '98: City hires flood claim consultants

Victims can find free help with their paperwork through April 18

by Elisabeth Traugott

As days become longer and spring gardens begin to bloom, the El Nino storms that so ravaged Palo Alto and neighboring communities have faded into a wet and wintry past for most people. But those affected by the flood of Feb. 3 have not been forgotten by their city, City Manager June Fleming told the council Monday in her final regularly scheduled flood update. To that end, the city has hired a company called Dimensions Unlimited to help residents wade through the bureaucracy necessary to bring relief.

"I can imagine what residents are going through," Fleming said, after the city's experience dealing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For a two-week trial that began Wednesday, consultants will be available to help residents with a variety of flood-related tasks, including filling out forms, determining what the requirements are for receiving aid, and seeking out other sources of disaster assistance.

The consultants will have office hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Room 1 at Mitchell Park, Fleming reported. The trial will end April 18.

The phone number for questions during those hours is 857-1648. Voice mail will be available when the office is closed. During the two-week trial period, the city will be contacting affected residents to determine whether there is demand for such a program and whether the hours are convenient.

"This is a trial. No one's ever done it before so we don't have a pattern to follow," Fleming said.

Fleming also announced that Menlo Park has begun circulating a draft Joint Powers Authority agreement to all jurisdictions affected by San Francisquito Creek.

At the May 11 council meeting, city staff will report on several flood-related issues, including FEMA's flood plain map and a proposal to challenge its findings.

Fleming said the city's flood information line will be discontinued this week because it is no longer receiving many calls. Residents with questions about property tax relief should call (408) 299-2401. Other flood-related questions can be answered by city staff, she said. 

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