California storms: thousands evacuated over flood risk

Thousands of San Jose residents have been forced to evacuate their homes after waist-high flood waters swamped a number of neighborhoods in the northern Californian city on Tuesday as stormy weather continued in the U.S. state.

Outreach workers have been visiting homeless encampments throughout San Jose to spread word about the floods and where people can find emergency shelter-at James Lick High School, 57 N. White Road. By late Tuesday, Coyote Creek had begun to flood houses throughout downtown along Williams and Santa Clara streets.

Sandy Moll tells the Mercury News ( ) that she had prepared for about a foot of water, but no more. Rescue workers sought to save residents as they waded through chest-deep water.

City officials said they have been warning residents along Coyote Creek to prepare for potential evacuations for a few days as a result of the rushing water flowing from Anderson Reservoir, according to city spokesman David Vossbrink.

At least 225 residents were taken Tuesday to dry land and rinsed with soap and water to prevent them from being sickened by floodwaters that had traveled through engine fuel, garbage, debris and sewer lines.

As people gathered their belongings and fled their homes Tuesday, emergency responders hosed down anyone who came in contact with the floodwater, which is coursing with gasoline, sewage, oil and other chemicals. No significant injuries have been reported.

Many were forced to head to the trees for safety at the Las Lagos golf course to avoid the rising waters early Tuesday, according to CBS in the Bay Area.

Water officials have been releasing 69 million gallons of water every day over the past two weeks from Anderson Dam because a deluge of winter rainstorms caused Anderson Reservoir to brim far over its capacity.

"It's an uncontrollable flow at this point", Matlow said. "Right now, we've got to do whatever we can to get people out". Witnesses say about 40 people were in the area when the water rose quickly.

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

From the ACE TRAIN: Commuters in the area who opted not to drive this morning were also impacted as the Altamont Commuter Express train announced that there would be no service today due to weather related impacts.

  • Carolyn Briggs