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Batten down the hatches, Oceano 

When the rains come this year, county officials think they’ll be ready, even if some residents in Oceano disagree.

On Oct. 25, county Public Works officials got $785,000 from flood control and water conservation district reserves to start preparing flood control measures for the coming deluges. San Luis Obispo County supervisors unanimously approved the budget package, which included a sole-sourced engineering contract with Phillip Williams Associates for $68,070.

County officials have been scrambling this year as nervous Oceano residents push them to avoid floods similar to those that happened last December. Much of the coastal community was submerged in flood waters and raw sewage after water caused electrical failures at the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District plant.

Any efforts to prevent further flooding have been sent through a maze of the various state, local, and federal agencies that have jurisdiction in the area.

Supervisor Frank Mecham said he was happy to move funds if it meant the county was finally doing something.

“I’m tired [of] talking about this; let’s move,” he said.

With that, Public Works will continue its flood-prevention work in the area and begin new projects that include strengthening levees, constructing berms to divert waters, and clearing vegetation in the Arroyo Grande Creek channel.

But residents think the county has been going about its work all wrong. Some criticized Public Works for failing to clear creek channels where the vegetation is at its worst, and many think the flooding last year was the result of human error, not Mother Nature.

“I think we’re going to have more studies, more consultants, more wasted money,” resident Joe Schacherer said.

The county defines its rainy season as lasting from Oct. 15 through April 15.

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