H-ARROYO GRANDE

Dec 23, 2010 2:28 AM by Ariel Wesler

Storms turn Soto Sports Complex into drainage basin

City leaders in Arroyo Grande have officially declared a state of emergency after days of heavy rainfall. It comes just after the governor declared an emergency in San Luis Obispo county last night. The heavy runoff has turned fields into drainage basins.

They're not playing ball at the Soto Sports Complex in Arroyo Grande. So much rain fell in the last few days, the city had to use the field as a water basin.

"I've lived here since 1987 and I don't think I've ever seen it like this. I used to play homerun derby over there and it's definitely interesting to see all these fields flooded," said Jonathan Hoekman of Arroyo Grande.

"I usually like going to the fields and jog, but now I can't because it's flooded all the way. It's crazy," said Nicholas Ruiz of Arroyo Grande.

City leaders declared a state of emergency, hoping to get reimbursed for the costs of handling severe flooding totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

"Our citizens have paid for over time. They've paid for staffing, equipment. They've lost their sports fields as far as the turf," said Steve Annibali, acting Director of Emergency Services.

As much as six feet of water now covers some of the turf.

"We tried to mitigate the water. We filled pond one. We filled pond two and even with the pumping, we even brought fire trucks out with hoses to pump," Annibali said.

The city says it's been at least 15 years since it last declared a state of emergency and while this might not be a field of dreams, it has keep people out of harms way... at least for now.

"Because of that, we were able to mitigate what could be a pretty significant emergency," Annibali said.

"Hopefully, the rain cooperates, and we don't have to get flooded," Hoekman said.

Annibali says he's hoping the city can pump out water from the field in the next couple of weeks. He says the sooner they can get rid of the water, the better chance they have of saving the field.

Meantime, the city says it will take months to go through and account for the total damage.

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