Evacuations expand in Coyote Creek neighborhood flooding

- The order had initially been for roughly 300 homes, mostly apartments and town homes, in the area around Kelley Park that since this morning have been suffering under about four feet of floodwater from the nearby creek, according city spokesman David Vossbrink.

Rescuers chest-deep in water steered boats full of people, some with babies and pets, on Tuesday from a San Jose neighborhood inundated by water from an overflowing creek. 

At least 225 residents were taken 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 over sewer lines, San Jose Fire Capt. Mitch Matlow said. 

Floodwaters got into the back part of the South Bay Mobile Home Park early Tuesday evening. 

"There's a lot of current in the creek," said Evacuee Alfonso Rosas . "I've never seen it that way considering all the years we had a drought."

A mandatory evacuation order issued for hundreds of homes in the southern part of San Jose due to flooding in Coyote Creek has been expanded to include the entire area along Coyote Creek, north of state Highway 237 and south of Interstate Highway 280.

Fourteen thousand people have been evacuated in the area. 

"We're expanding the mandatory evacuation order to nearly all residents east of Coyote Creek but west of (U.S. Highway) 101," except for the Bonita neighborhood, Mayor Sam Liccardo said on Twitter at 10:42 p.m.

San Jose Police came knocking at Rosas's door at 4 p.m. He's lived with his family at this park for 20 years. He said this is the second time this park has flooded but nothing quite like this.

"I feel a bit emotional," said Rosas. "I feel the rain is defeating us today."

Authorities said rushing water from neighboring Coyote Creek came in through a back wall into the mobile home park. Three mobile home parks were evacuated - South Bay, Golden Wheel and River Bend. In all, 550 units affected.

"We had an extended rain event over the last 24-36 hours or so," said Santa Clara County Fire Captain Bill Murphy. 

Residents went door-to-door searching for people who needed to leave the neighborhood and only residents who could prove they had been cleaned of the floodwaters were allowed to board buses to shelters.

 

"Coyote Creek is rising because of water coming out of Anderson (Reservoir)," Matlow said. "We have a neighborhood that's basically underwater."   

Water rescue teams are using boats and other vehicles to go door-to-door and pull residents to safety, Matlow said.

Anyone who has come into contact with the murky brown water is being decontaminated because of fears about overflowing sewage lines, oil and gas from vehicles trapped in the water or household chemicals that might have leaked into the flood waters.

Evacuees are being taken to local evacuation centers or the hospital but it's still unclear how many people have been rescued or evacuated so far, Matlow said.

No significant injuries have been reported so far. The crews responded to the neighborhood at about 10 a.m. just after completing the rescue operation at the Los Lagos Golf Course and as the high waters continue to flood downstream towards the bay, more neighborhoods could be inundated.

The flooding is partly blamed on water rushing down the spillway of the Anderson Reservoir, which the latest series of storms have filled to beyond its capacity.

"It's an uncontrollable flow at this point," Matlow said. "How much water we're going to get here and how high it's going to rise, we don't know."

People are being warned to stay away from standing water, avoid downed trees and power lines and to get out of any area where water appears to be rising.

Over the past day-and-a-half, San Jose fire rescue teams have completed four boat rescue operations due to the flooding and expect to be involved in more as the day wears on.

"This is like once-in-a-lifetime," said Bobby Lee, 15, of the water around him. 

MORE COVERAGE

He was rescued with his brother and parents, who took clothes, electronics and some photos from their home in a neighborhood that ended up littered with submerged cars. 

Earlier Tuesday, firefighters rescued five people stranded by flooding at a homeless camp along the same creek in San Jose.

Firefighters went door-to-door to tell residents to get out of their homes because the city does not have sirens or another emergency warning system, San Jose spokesman David Vossbrink said.

The rains were the latest produced by a series of storms generated by so-called atmospheric rivers that dump massive quantities of Pacific Ocean water on California after carrying it aloft from as far away as Hawaii. 

The latest downpours swelled waterways to flood levels and left about half the state under flood, wind and snow advisories.

In another area of San Jose, the fire department was called to Coyote Creek amid reports of as many as 40 people being stranded at a homeless encampment.

That number turned out to be inaccurate and five people were located and rescued, Matlow said.

Their condition was not immediately available.

In the Sierra Nevada mountain range, part of Highway 50, one of the main routes to Lake Tahoe, was in danger of collapsing after a roadway shoulder gave way following heavy storms, leaving a gaping hole about 40 feet long and 17 feet wide, Caltrans engineer Jarrett Woodruff said. 

Crews opened one lane open Tuesday as Caltrans workers tried to fix the road failure after numerous mudslides blocked it for days at a time in recent weeks.

Heavy storms over the last two weeks caused parts of the shoulder and part of one lane on the four-lane highway give way. 

In the San Joaquin Valley in California's agricultural heartland, farmers used their tractors and other heavy equipment to help shore up an endangered levee along the San Joaquin River.

Some farmers took their tractors and other equipment to the levee to help shore it up, arriving to fill a big breach within half an hour of noticing the break, said alfalfa farmer Tony Coit. 

"The farmers ran it like a boss," he said, using soil from the levee itself to fill in the 30-foot-wide break until they could truck in large rocks for more substantial repairs. 

The water level rose at Lake Oroville for the first time since authorities ordered an emergency evacuation of 188,000 people more than a week ago after a damaged spillway caused major flooding concerns. 

The rains have saturated the once-drought stricken region and wreaked havoc for residents hit hard by the storms. At least four people have died in the storms throughout the state in the last week.

A motorist in Northern California was swept into a creek Saturday during another in the series of storms and drowned inside her car, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Witnesses had seen the woman driving around signs blocking the road near Orland, Undersheriff Todd James of the Glenn County Sheriff's Office told the newspaper.

Evacuation Centers - Now Open

The evacuation centers offer a location for residents to connect with family and friends in a safe, dry place. They are not intended as overnight shelters, but they will remain open as drop-in centers overnight. Water and snacks are available.

NEW: Mayfair  Community Center - 2039 Kammerer Ave 95116
Shirakawa Community  Center - 2072 Lucretia Ave 95122

Overnight Shelter (Red Cross)
The overnight shelter will be operated in coordination with the Red Cross and the San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services. If necessary the City may open a second overnight shelter. This shelter cannot accept pets, but residents can take their pets to the San Jose Animal Shelter (2750 Monterey Road, San Jose; www.sanjoseanimals.com) for safekeeping.

James Lick High School - 57 N. White Rd 95127

Sandbags locations (sandbags available 24 hours)
NEW - San Jose Happy Hollow Park , 1300 Senter Road (this is ½ mile north of the Central Service Yard, which is no longer accessible because of road closures)
San Jose Mabury Service Yard, 1404 Mabury Road
San Jose: Santa Clara Valley Water District Winfield Warehouse,  Winfield Boulevard between Blossom Hill Road and Coleman Avenue
For more locations, http://www.valleywater.org/Services/FloodProtectionResources.aspx 
Coyote Creek Encampments Alerts - Homelessness Services

The San José Housing Department conducted extensive outreach to alert people living outdoors along Coyote Creek about dangers associated with camping by the creek. The City has opened its four winter overnight warming centers as it regularly does during periods of cold and wet weather. More information here:  http://www.sanjoseca.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1772

Tully Community Library - 880 Tully Road
Bascom Community Center - 1000 S. Bascom Avenue
Biblioteca Lationamericana -  921 S. 1st Street (ADA Accessible)
Washington United Youth Center - 921B S. 1st Street (Designated for Families)
Road Closure Status in San José
Keyes St - Senter Rd to Roberts Ave
Tully Rd Westbound - Lucretia Ave to Senter Rd
Williams St - 16th St to 
Senter Rd - Tully Rd to Story Rd
Rock Springs Rd - Phelan Ave to Needles Dr
Bailey Ave - IBM Eastbound to HWY 101
Bailey Ave - Santa Teresa Blvd to McKean Rd
Santa Teresa Blvd Southbound- Bayliss Dr to Bailey
Coyote Ranch Rd - Monterey Rd to Coyote Creek
Open one lane: Foxworthy Avenue - from Rubino Dr to Hillsdale Ave
Open one lane: Berryess Rd Westbound - Sierra to Commercial
Storm Update

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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