FEMA funds needed to repair storm damage 

Pacifica council waiting for $1 million in federal funds to fix last year’s weather ravages

PACIFICA — The wet winter and even wetter spring in the last year took their toll on the coastside city’s seawalls and hills, and the cost to repair Mother Nature’s damage is $1.368 million.

The City Council approved a contract Monday with Power Engineering Inc. to conduct repairs on the Rockaway Beach and Beach Boulevard Seawalls, the Clarendon drainage pipe and piles on the pier.

The city expects funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to take care of the costs and won’t proceed with the repairs until a $1 million advance from the federal agency comes.

Repairs to the seawalls are expected to start in the spring.

The damages occurred during the harsh weather from Dec. 17 through Jan. 3, the first of two disaster periods declared locally last winter, said Pacifica Project Coordinator Elizabeth Claycomb.

Heavy rains and high seas during that period damaged both seawalls, snapped off a portion of the Clarendon pipe, which helps combat flooding in the Palmetto and Sharp Park neighborhoods, and damaged or removed portions of protective wraps around the pier’s piles, according to Claycomb.

"When you have rains starting in December and not ending until mid-May, it negatively impacts us," she said.

The majority of projects eligible for FEMA funding from the second disaster period are landslides, including a slide above the city’s Calera Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

"We would love to be able to move forward with fixing all of that as soon as possible," Claycomb said, but the projects need to win approval from the Coastal Commission, too.

Residents of the coastside are no strangers to violent and unstable weather conditions, conditions that Jeff Michael learned about firsthand.

The first-year general manager of the Best Western Lighthouse Hotel on Rockaway Beach Boulevard said that the inclement weather sometimes brings ocean and rain water right into the lobby of the hotel.

"We’ve actually had those boulders end up in the parking garage area of the hotel," Michael said. "It’s pretty impressive to watch the seas and watch the weather and what it can do right here on the ocean."

Mayor Sue Digre applauded the city’s efforts to stay on top of the FEMA application process, saying there was a lot of paperwork with the federal agency and the "quicker you’re on top of things, the better."

She said coastsiders worry "all the time" about damages because of the storms and sea swell that can occur.

"It’s always a worry and we try to be really super-alert," the mayor said. "We love our coast but erosion can happen."

dsmith@examiner.com

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