A few Oceano residents whose houses flooded during heavy storms in December have finished replacing their carpet, repainting and repairing cabinets.
Other homes, such as Greg Cobb’s house, are still a work in progress.
Cobb, who lives on Honolulu Avenue, recently received permits to rebuild his single-story house.
“I hope this doesn’t happen again,” he told the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “I’m not optimistic though.”
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Cobb and other residents are concerned that nearly six months have passed since the flooding, and even short-term solutions are not in place.
But some of those solutions — including breaching a sandbar, so Arroyo Grande Creek can freely flow to the ocean — require a lengthy permitting process involving five state and federal agencies, and money.
County public works staff has developed a list of priorities — all of which are unfunded — and had planned to come back to county supervisors with recommendations and funding options in three to four months.
On Tuesday, supervisors told them to come back sooner.
“I don’t want to see it ever happen again,” said Supervisor Paul Teixeira, whose district includes Oceano.
On Wednesday, Dean Benedix, utilities division manager for the public works department, said he hoped to come back to the board in July.
Still, that timeline may not be quick enough for some residents, who beseeched supervisors to take action before this winter’s storm season.
“I know that in six months, it’s going to rain again and nothing has been done about it,” Steve Ehens of Oceano said.
Despite dozens of sandbags, water flowed into the first floor of his Security Court home, ruining his carpet.
“I don’t want to get wet again,” Ehens said. “We just all got put back together.”
Thirty-nine homes and eight apartments were damaged by floodwaters from Dec. 18-19, according to the county Public Works Department.
Most were in the neighborhoods off Pier Avenue near the Oceano County Airport and South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District.
Local residents’ homes were flooded with water from the Meadow Creek Lagoon (also known as Oceano Lagoon), which was unable to empty into the rain-swollen Arroyo Grande Creek.
The residents also want the county to be able to breach the sandbar so the Arroyo Grande Creek can flow into the ocean — something that residents a few decades ago did themselves, but is not possible today given the different environmental restrictions.
“It used to be a guy in a tractor in the middle of the night,” Ehens said. “I never knew it was this complicated” to obtain permits to manage the sandbar.
County public works staff has identified several priorities for the Arroyo Grande Creek channel and the Meadow Creek watershed area.
Their top priority is evaluating the flooding risk to the Arroyo Grande Creek channel if the Lopez Lake reservoir spills this winter.
Others include completing a hydraulic analysis of Meadow Creek and the lagoon, preparing an Oceano drainage plan, and pursing permits to manually breach the sandbar.
Obtaining a permit could take several years, though the county could pursue an emergency permit if local officials determined an emergency was imminent.
The county also has to work with California State Parks, which Benedix said owns the majority of the Meadow Creek watershed area.
“There aren’t a lot of things we can do immediately without permits,” he said.