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Request to run Santa Clara Water Valley District- Q&A with John Varela

Q&A: What Will It Take to Prevent Another Coyote Creek Flood?

Editor’s Note: On the morning of February 21, the Rock Springs area of San Jose saw the city’s worst flooding in two decades when winter storms caused Coyote Creek to overflow. Early storms this year had saturated watersheds, and increased runoff from subsequent storms caused the creek to rise dramatically. The City of San Jose failed to warn residents, with city officials saying they’d been given inaccurate information by the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Nearly 15,000 people had to be evacuated. NAM spoke with John Varela, the board director of the water district.

What is the major lesson learned for the District from last month's catastrophic Coyote Creek flood?

The water district understands the need to have a strong collaboration with the City of San Jose and other cities to reduce flood risk to residents. The district and city are developing a joint emergency action plan with specific thresholds and defined corresponding actions.

What is the likelihood that a similar flood could recur, and what steps is the District taking to ensure there will be advance warning if it does?

The type of storm we saw on President’s Day was classified as a 20- or 25-year storm event. We haven’t seen similar flows in Coyote Creek since 1997. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t see flooding for another 20 years. With any chance of storm, parts of our county are susceptible to flooding … There are about 66,000 parcels that are in the FEMA flood zone. We are working every year to reduce that number, but the flood risk will continue to exist. People should be aware that not all flooding can be predicted. Our ability to forecast stream flows is improving, but it’s not a perfect science. Strong downpours can cause streams to rise quickly, and flash flooding can happen quickly and without warning.

The district will continue working with cities and regional partners to communicate and to ensure understanding of existing flood risks and work on developing joint emergency action plans to improve inter-agency communication.

The City of San Jose has criticized the district for inaccurate data regarding channel capacity and flawed estimates of flood risk. What is the District’s response?

The water district followed the procedures and protocols and provided the necessary information and data to the City to notify residents that flooding was imminent in the President’s Day storm event. Numerous indications showed the potential for flooding at vulnerable areas along the creek. Given unpredictable variables with a natural creek like Coyote, our estimates were within a standard range … The City was aware of the forecast predicting flooding from the National Weather Service, and from a technical and professional standpoint, should have been relying on all the data that was presented, rather than basing its actions on one single piece of data [i.e., the flow rates in Coyote Creek].

The District is not responsible for calling for evacuations. However, a period of 24 to 48 hours is likely appropriate to facilitate a timely and orderly evacuation. It’s unclear what trigger the City of San Jose was using for its evacuation decisions. If it was only flow rates in Coyote Creek, that obviously would not have allowed for a timely and orderly evaluation. In fact, it would have only provided for a maximum notice of 4 to 6 hours for the impacted communities.

What is the district doing to improve its flood monitoring protocols?

Our hydrology team is working on further developing an existing flood forecasting tool to extend monitoring and forecasting to other parts of our county, including Coyote Creek. This tool is a useful resource in sharing information with partner agencies. A byproduct of the flood is that we now have a more current estimate of where flooding occurs along Coyote Creek and the estimated flow levels. Previous estimates were based on flows from 1997 storms, the last recorded high flow event in the creek, in addition to a field study that measured the shape of the channel. Over the course of 20 years, there are a variety of factors that can impact the capacity of the creek. Creeks can extend in a different direction, erosion can occur along the creek, and vegetation growth and creek blockages can also occur over time.

What steps can residents take to protect themselves from future flooding?

Disaster preparedness is key, not just for flood safety but for any naturally occurring disaster. According to FEMA, 83 percent of Americans do not consider themselves prepared for an emergency. So it is crucial for residents to be prepared with emergency supplies at home, at work, and in their car, and that they have an emergency evacuation plan with their families. Also key for flood safety is being aware of your flood risk. Residents should be aware of the location of neighborhood streams and know how to get to higher ground in the event of flooding. Another important action that residents can take is purchasing flood insurance, which can save a lot of headaches and money; most homeowners and renters insurance do not cover flood damage. The water district has flood protection resources available on our website,

What message does the District want to send about its role?

In the last four decades, the water district has invested more than a billion dollars in reducing flood risk, protecting more than 93,000 properties in previously flood-prone areas. However, flood risk still exists in our county, and with more than 60,000 parcels in the FEMA-designated floodplain, we currently have 18 projects underway to reduce this risk. Flood protection projects are large and multifaceted undertakings … Support from the community and agencies at the local, state, and even federal levels is crucial for a successful project. The water district will host a series of post-flood community meetings to analyze the event and how we can leverage community relationships, agency partnerships, and resources to reduce flood risk in the future.


Care Indeed Sponsors SF State Gerontology Program's 30th Anniversary

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Two quakes rock Cebu 2 minutes apart

An image released by Phivolcs shows the epicenter of the earthquake that hit Cebu at 3:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017. Another quake that hit two-minutes earlier hit the same general area. PHIVOLCS IMAGE Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


By: Michelle Padayhag - @inquirerdotnet

CEBU CITY — Two earthquakes were recorded in midwest Cebu on Tuesday before dawn, according to Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Based on the advisory posted on its website, Phivolcs said first tremor was recorded at 3:41 a.m. with a magnitude of 3.4 with the epicenter traced about two kilometers northwest of Asturias town, midwest Cebu
The earthquake was tectonic in origin and had a depth of 15 kilometers.

The tremor was felt at Intensity three and two in Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City.
Two minutes later, a second earthquake occurred.
A stronger, magnitude 4.8 earthquake was recorded at 3:43 a.m with an epicenter at 4 kilometers northwest of Balamban town, which is next to Asturias.
The second quake was also tectonic in origin and had 25 kilometers in depth.
It was felt at Intensity 3 in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. CBB


PNP asks Leni Robredo for details of ‘palit-ulo’ scheme in war on drugs

The Philippine National Police on Wednesday asked Vice President Leni Robredo to provide details on the alleged ‘palit-ulo’ scheme so that the PNP could take action and investigate.
Robredo, in a video message, adverted to instances when loved ones of drug suspects were apprehended when police couldn't get to the suspect.
The police allegedly urge the suspect to surrender before the family member is released.
“Kung merong ganitong ulat, we ask them to be more specific and let us allow those allegedly who has done this to answer for it,” PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said in a press conference.
“Let us be more specific saan nangyari, sino itong mga ito,” he added.
Carlos said the ‘palit-ulo’ scheme, if true, was not condoned by the PNP.
“Hindi nga ito sanctioned, wala doon sa polisiya. Hindi iyan norm, hindi iyan practice
," Carlos said.
"Ina-attach natin ito sa Oplan Tokhang which is not part of the Oplan Tokhang. Sana ay maging more specific kung nangyayari hindi yung it will appear that it is the practice which is not,” he added.
He said police officers involved in such a scheme would be investigated either by Internal Affairs Service or the local police.
“Kung may pananagutan yung pulis, bawat isang insidente na may nangyari andyan na agad ang IAS. Kasabay nyan magsasagawa ng investigation ang police station kung saan nangyari yung krimen,” Carlos said.
Robredo, in a recorded speech posted on YouTube by anti-drug network DRCNet Foundation on March 13, said the spouse or relative of a person in a so-called drug list would be taken if the person himself could not be found.
She said that because of these instances, the people have allegedly lost trust in the police.
"Some of those have told us that when there's crime, they normally go to the police. Now they don't know where to turn to. Our people feel both hopeless and helpless—a state of mind that we must all take seriously," Robredo said.
But according to Carlos, Robredo should have coordinated with their office first regarding the alleged scheme before it was made public.
“Sana nga naiparating [muna] hindi ‘yung broadcast kaagad. The same way with sinasabi natin doon sa mga ulat na paglabag sa karapatang pantao, meron ho kaming opisina para doon," he said.
“May nabanggit na 500 na kaso na paglabag sa karapatang pantao at inihain sa tamang ahensya ng gobyerno. Ang tanong is how extensive these investigations are that would warrant a case against those who made a violation. Ganun ‘yung tanong hindi ‘yung we float the numbers and then make it appear as if it is the general situation,” Carlos added.
He cited the alleged 7,000 summary killing cases being mentioned. He said of the number, 4,435 were murder cases under death under investigation and of this, 1,409 have been resolved where charges have been filed before the court.
Carlos said they have arrested 800 suspects while 500 others have been identified.
“Hindi ho natin iniwanan itong mga kasong ito pagkatapos nung tayo ay pinatigil nung January 30, nagtuloy-tuloy ‘yung imbestigasyon, pag-monitor natin ng kaso,” he said.
He said the PNP figures “have been used to represent something which is not really the entire situation.”
“We hope they present more specific details on their data. Kasi if you look at the different reports they will always say over 7,000 cases, iba-iba nagsasabi niyan,” Carlos said. — GMA News

Was 'intimate' dinner with Duterte a loyalty check? Sotto, Ejercito say no

Senators Vicente Sotto III and JV Ejercito on Wednesday denied that the “intimate” dinner they had with President Rodrigo Duterte was part of a loyalty check, saying the two-hour conversation was mostly “light” and “nothing serious.”
Sotto and Ejercito were two of the 15 majority senators who attended the dinner held Tuesday night in Malacañang.
“Walang napag-usapan na priority bills,” Sotto said. “Siguro probably because most of them have not broken bread with the President not even once from July.”
Asked whether it was a loyalty check, Sotto replied: “I don’t think so.”

Ejercito, for his part, said: “Wala eh. Baka. Pero wala talagang pinag-usapan na medyo mabigat na issue.”
Ejercito added that topics discussed during the dinner were tax reform proposals of the administration, the war on drugs, and, very briefly, the charges filed against Senator Leila de Lima.
De Lima is currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center over drug-related charges.
“In fairness to the President, wala siyang hiniling, inindorso, wala siyang tinanong tungkol sa investigation. So very light lang,” Ejercito said.
Aside from Ejercito and Sotto, the other senators present were Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and Senators Manny Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Grace Poe, Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto, and Sonny Angara.
Absent from the dinner are Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Gringo Honasan.
Also noticeably absent were members of the minority bloc composed of De Lima and Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV. —KBK, GMA News


Donald Trump Has Call Centers in the Philippines Worried

Outsourcing companies in the Philippines, whose clients are mainly U.S. companies, are worried that Donald Trump’s plan to bring jobs back to America won’t end at just manufacturing but extend into services.

The industry is considering hiring a U.S.-based consultant to monitor the threat of rising American protectionism, Ike Amigo, the head of the Philippine association representing outsourcing companies, said in an interview on Wednesday.

“We are looking at hiring a consultant on the ground pretty soon, as early as March,” he said in his office in Manila. “We keep an eye on developments in the Trump administration. Certainly, it is a concern,” adding the consultant may be a lobbyist or a research group.

Trump is shaking up the global stage as he persuades companies such as Ford Motor Co. to put up factories and investment in the U.S to create jobs. While outsourcing companies have largely escaped his notice, his policies could hurt the industry in the Philippines, among the largest foreign-exchange earners, just as the peso is weakening.

Click here to read how the peso’s decline is forecast to worsen this year

“Trump is one of the biggest risks facing outsourcing revenue,” said Michael Wan, an economist at Credit Suisse Group AG in Singapore. “That comes on top of a more protectionist mood globally, not just in the U.S. The outsourcing sector will have to contend with that challenge.”

Philippine outsourcing revenue surged 160 percent in the past six years to an estimated $23 billion in 2016 and is forecast to rise to $39 billion by 2022. It is projected to provide 1.8 million jobs by then, about 4 percent of total employment.

To achieve their goal, the industry is moving to offering higher-skilled jobs in areas such as animation, medical, legal and game development, Amigo said. That will add to the Philippines’ natural advantages which include cheaper wages, accent-neutral English language skills, affinity with customer service and familiarity with American culture.

Philippine providers also seek to diversify their markets to boost clients from Japan, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, India, U.K., and Southeast Asia, he said.

The average cost of a full-time business process outsourcing employee in the Philippines is about $19,300 a year, compared with $72,300 in the U.K. and $91,100 in the U.S., according to consulting firm Everest Group. The cost calculation includes salaries and expenses related to benefits, administration, facilities, technology and others.


DFA puts on hold renewal of Yasay’s Philippine passport

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs has put on hold the application of former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. for renewal of his Philippine passport pending resolution of questions surrounding his citizenship by “competent authorities.”

Yasay filed the application on March 9, a day after the 15-member Commission on Appointments rejected his appointment as head of the country’s foreign service for lying about his American citizenship.

“At this writing, we have received instructions from Acting Secretary (Enrique) Manalo to suspend or hold in abeyance the issuance of the passport to former Sec. Yasay pending resolution of the legal question by competent authorities,” Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs Frank R. Cimafranca said.

Asked about the DFA’s move, Yasay said, “I don’t know about that. They did not inform me.” He declined further comment.

Sources close to Yasay said the former secretary’s Philippine passport issued in 2013 is valid up to mid-2018. He applied for Express Processing (seven working days) and paid P1,200.

The DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs said the only requirement for renewal of an e-passport is the current passport.


Driven away from Scarborough Shoal, Filipino fishermen now train in China

MANILA – Leonardo Cuaresma, leader of a fisherfolk organization in Masinloc, Zambales, spent the beginning of 2017 surveying the fishing sites in the province of Guangdong in China, at one point even riding a Chinese coastguard ship along with 15 other Filipino fishermen.
This is the very same ship which at mere sight, had raised fear among members of Cuaresma’s organization, some of whom were attacked with water cannons by the Chinese coastguard in January 2014.
This incident, among others, signaled the growing tension between China and the Philippines over the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, where Panatag Shoal, (also called Bajo de Masinloc and Scarborough Shoal) lies. The two have claimed ownership over the resource-rich area.
But in January 2017, Cuaresma and other Filipino fishermen who ventured in the disputed waters of Panatag Shoal and Spratly Islands in Palawan (5 participants hailed from Region III or Central Luzon and 11 others came from Region IV-B where Palawan is) – were not sent away by this ship; it instead took them to fishing havens in China to expose them to Beijing’s fisheries technology.
“We rode in the ship of [the] maritime coastguard. From the shoreline up to 200 nautical miles, [you can see] fish cages,” Cuaresma, the leader of Nilalamo A Asosyanon Nin Maninilay Ha Babalin Masinloc (NAMBM Inc) or Federated Association of Fisherfolk in Masinloc, said.
It was a gesture of goodwill, one that could not be expected from China 4 years ago, when the Philippines lodged a case against the military and economic behemoth before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The Philippines said China’s nine-dash line is an invalid basis for its maritime claim over the West Philippine Sea.
In July 2016, the Philippines won; China did not recognize the ruling.
In spite of this, President Rodrigo Duterte moved to develop warmer ties with Beijing partly because Manila could not match China’s military might. It was also a consequence of his decision to veer away from the United States, the Philippines’ longstanding ally.
The Philippines, along with the 9 other member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 3 of which are also claimants of parts of the South China Sea (Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei) now aim to finalize a framework for the Code of Conduct over the area by June. This was announced on February 21 as ASEAN foreign ministers held a meeting in Boracay.
But outside the diplomatic arena, China’s decision to

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