California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for San Diego and Ventura County after record-breaking rainfall hit the region due to a Pacific winter storm. Hundreds of homes got damaged due to flash flooding with waters reaching up to the ceiling for some. Hundreds of people had to be rescued from dangerous waters taking over the area.
The rain carried away cars and dangerous debris, flooded homes, created landslides, and led to hundreds of evacuations and rescue searches. A local high school in the city was used as a temporary shelter for those who were affected by the flood in their homes. Red Cross shelters opened in areas to keep over 300 people safe during this.
The National Weather Service stated that this has been the wettest January for San Diego. More than five inches of rain fell northeast of downtown San Diego. Over two inches of rain was measured at the city airport, which set a new record. The last record was 2.57 inches in 1979, and Jan 24 brought on a new record at 2.73 inches. The average rainfall for San Diego in January is 1.98 inches for the whole month and 10 inches annually.
By Monday evening, the San Diego Fire Department executed about 24 rescue operations around the San Diego and Tijuana rivers. The rain and flooding started in Los Angeles and reached down south to Tijuana, Mexico.
“This weather event was predicted, in terms of rain, but the amount of rain in the short amount of time was a bit of a surprise to, I think, everybody,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. He said he would be asking for federal funds from the governor.
San Diego River banks overflowed and are responsible for the flooding, causing flash flood warnings and major road closures. Northbound State Route 15, eastbound State Route 78, and Interstate 5 all experienced flooding and closures. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System also shut down or suspended trolley and bus services, warning citizens to not travel unless necessary.
The flooding not only affected houses but businesses, too. The Central Library closed after the parking garage started filling with water. Along with that, two homeless shelters had to shut down and move.
Jonathan Erdman, senior meteorologist at weather.com, said the area received “more than a month's worth of rain in less than six hours Monday.”
So far, no deaths have been reported by the city of San Diego. Outside of the city, three people were found dead in possible relation to the rain storm. Two have remained unidentified, and one was found to have crashed his car and died after hitting debris in Lemon Grove.
County officials have opened an online survey for victims to report damages. This will help determine how much funding and assistance will be available for the area. As clean-up continues, victims of the floods are unsure of what comes next after losing their homes and neighborhoods.
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