Thousands still forced from homes by flooding in California tech hub

Darin HammondFeb 23, 2017

It was unclear when residents would be allowed back into their homes.

Thousands of San Jose residents and city officials are facing a massive cleanup after overnight flooding along Coyote Creek prompted emergency evacuations in neighborhoods along the stream. Another 36,000 have been recommended by authorities to flee. Residents and pets were ferried to safety on rescue boats.

Almost 100 more were rescued in overnight operations, according to local media. The crews created a temporary dam at the breached location, using about 2,000 tons of material to stop the flow of water onto the freeway, which was reopened by early Wednesday morning. "Our focus right now is on ensuring that these residents are safe", said Sam Liccardo, the Mayor of San Jose.

Another 22,000 people were advised to leave. Some areas flooded for the first time in many years, he said.

After a lengthy drought, some regions of California are struggling to cope with heavy rains and a series of powerful storms.

Santa Clara County's largest reservoir, the Anderson Reservoir, was inundated with waters on Sunday and Monday that eventually overran the artificial lake and poured into Coyote Creek, causing much of what has transpired in San Jose over the past 24 hours.

But the flooding continued upstream, with the biggest impacts in neighborhoods in south San Jose. One rescued man said he was surprised by the rising flood waters. Sewage, garbage and engine fuel tainted the floodwaters, and those rescued needed to wash down with soap, San Jose Fire Capt. Mitch Matlow said.

Some 14,000 households are in the three mandatory evacuation areas, including nearly 500 families from apartments in the Rock Springs neighborhood, the East William Street corridor including Brookwood Terrace and parts of Naglee Park and three mobile home parks along Oakland Road.

Parts of San Jose were underwater after the Anderson Reservoir overflowed into Coyote Creek, a river that normally rolls quietly through the Santa Clara Valley. Other VTA bus lines were rerouted to avoid flood zones and road closures.

"They didn't have any warnings they said it was going to flood a little that's it gut they didn't tell us anything at all that this was going to happen", said Janet Martinez.

Coyote Creek crested at a record-breaking 14.4 feet (4.4 meters) on Tuesday evening, said National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin.

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