Flooding forces hundreds of Californians from homes

Mandatory evacuation under way after authorities declare emergency as Coyote Creek overflows its banks.

    Flooding forces hundreds of Californians from homes
    The water level rose at Lake Oroville for the first time since authorities ordered an emergency evacuation of 188,000 people after a damaged spillway caused major flooding concerns [Reuters]

    Floodwaters swamped neighbourhoods along a rain-swollen creek in the northern California city of San Jose on Tuesday, prompting authorities to issue evacuation orders or advisories for more than 1,000 homes, city officials said.

    The state's third-largest city, a hub of the hi-tech Silicon Valley corridor south of San Francisco, has about one million residents and declared an emergency as Coyote Creek overflowed its banks from days of heavy showers.

    About 300 homes were ordered evacuated in low-lying Rock Springs, and city officials urged residents of about 200 dwellings in the Williams Street neighbourhood downstream to leave their homes, city spokesman David Vossbrink said.

    READ MORE: Evacuation lifted for Californians living below dam

    After dark, fire department crews began going door to door advising residents of three creek-side mobile home parks, consisting of about 600 trailers, to move to higher ground, Vossbrink said, adding that the stream was continuing to rise.

    At a news conference earlier in the day, Mayor Sam Liccardo acknowledged that municipal officials should have moved more quickly in evacuating the Rock Springs area.

    "As I sit here today and I look out at a neighborhood that's completely inundated with water ... there’s no question in my mind there was a failure of some kind," he said.

    City officials had no reports of injuries, deaths or people missing, said Vossbrink, who estimated that at least 300 homes were damaged by flooding.

    The San Jose Fire Department advised a decontamination cleansing for those immersed in floodwaters to get rid of hazardous pollutants.

    The latest series of downpours that swept northern California on Sunday and Monday weakened on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. Meteorologists said the storms were spawned by an "atmospheric river" bringing moisture from the Pacific Ocean.

    READ MORE: No return home in sight for Californians fleeing dam

    Last week a string of storms triggered a crisis near the Lake Oroville Dam about 160km northeast of San Francisco, where damage to two spillways prompted an evacuation of more than 100,000 people downstream.

    California is slowly recovering from five years of drought thanks to several months of unusually wet weather.

    At least 8cm of rain fell in many areas, though some received far more, such as the sparsely populated Big Sur region and outside the city of Santa Rosa, which got more than 20cm, the weather officials said.

    The next heavy storm is expected to hit Northern California this weekend, they added.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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