City Damages Estimated at $20 Million

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

January 27, 2023

The storm blew over a rules sign at the launch ramp. Photo by Becka Kelly

The big storm of Jan. 8-9 could turn out to be the costliest disaster in town history, after preliminary estimates of the damage to just City facilities runs into the tens of millions.

City Manager Scott Collins told Estero Bay News the damage included “Harbor infrastructure, the Corp Yard [equipment, buildings, vehicles], old waste water treatment plant, storm drains, parks, trees, and roads.”

He explained that the City had been engaged in the extensive cleanup of the area on Main Street that was flooded, as well as “Atascadero Road and other parts of the community. The infrastructure damages and our cleanup costs are estimated to be around $20 million. But that is an early estimate and subject to change.”

He was thankful that the City’s new wastewater treatment plant was online when the storm hit. “Our old wastewater plant was heavily flooded on Jan. 9,” Collins said, “and would have failed had it been operating at that time. That would likely have released up to half a million gallons of sewage into the community and we’d potentially still be without sewer service in our community today.” His comments came 10 days after the storm.

Public Works Director Greg Kwolek confirmed that several pieces of heavy equipment that can be seen in a photo of the flood, belonged to Anvil Builders, the company that has been installing the Water Reclamation Facility conveyance system but “We have not heard that they lost any equipment.”

The company also for the past couple of years has used an area alongside Atascadero Road as an equipment storage and laydown yard, and Kwolek said, “To my knowledge, no supplies or equipment down stored on Atascadero Road sustained damage.”

The City did have a sewage spill on Atascadero Road of some 9,900 gallons that came up out of a manhole in the street. “We did encounter a small sewage issue [around 10,000 gallons released] on Jan. 9,” Collins said, “with remnant sludge in the old treatment plant and sewer lines overwhelmed by the shear amount of water. We are coordinating with the state on that.”

The full extent of the damage wrought by the storm includes more than the City’s losses. “The $20 million estimate,” Collins said, “does not include private residents and business impacts. We are grateful that the cities, county, state and Congressional partners were successful in raising awareness of impacts to our region and that the president extended the major disaster declaration to our county. 

“We don’t fully understand what it all means, but that declaration opens the door for some relief.”

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