Unusual rainfall and flash flooding hit the San Diego area on Monday, closing highways, swamping roads and leaving some residents to watch helplessly as water washed away their cars or wreaked havoc on their homes.
According to the National Weather Service, up to three inches fell in a three-hour span, leaving many stranded. By late afternoon, the agency noted that the San Diego River was flooding and that water levels were still rising.
As damage reports emerged, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria declared a state of emergency and urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel. Mr. Gloria said the city is coordinating efforts with local, state and federal agencies to ensure a comprehensive response. Displaced residents were sent to an evacuation center set up by the American Red Cross.
Authorities fielded numerous rescue calls in the area, which received more rain on Monday than during the feared Tropical Storm Hillary last August.
“By all indications, this will turn out to be one of the top 10 wettest days at the airport on all climate records dating back to the 1800s,” said Brian Adams, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego. “It's a day, yes.”
In San Diego's Mountain View neighborhood, which was particularly hard-hit, many residents tried to sweep water out of their garages, which didn't seem as futile as addressing the mud that flowed into their homes. The water, as judged by the brown streaks on the outer walls of the dwellings, was several feet high. Inside, carpets covered in a thick mud.
“The whole house is covered in mud,” said Laura Lockwood, 43, as she eagerly took in the scene outside the home she's lived in for eight years. The patio table was thrown against the front of her garage. The courtyard became an impassable swamp. The wooden fence was cut down. Her cat Bagheera is missing.
“I didn't expect anything like this,” Ms. said Lockwood, an interior designer. She planned to take several days off work. “It's overwhelming. I don't even know where to start.
His neighbor Jarvis Landers, 65, worried about his flooded cars. A forklift operator and a shipping and receiving clerk, Mr. Landers has lived in the neighborhood for decades and was concerned that a nearby drainage ditch was clogged with debris because it wasn't properly cleaned before the storm.
Across the region, drivers found themselves navigating clogged roads or, worse, being forced to abandon their cars altogether. Sections of major highways looked like rivers. Vehicles were washed away in some areas.
On Interstate 15, a semi truck overturned causing lane closures. Sanitation crews also removed mud from the highway.
Some schools in the area closed early due to flooding or power outages, while others advised shelters. About 14,500 San Diego gas and electric customers lost power as of Monday afternoon. PowerOutage.us.
The National School District in San Diego County said, “We are experiencing power outages, loss of communications and flooding in some areas.” Said in X.
Coronado, a resort town across the bay from San Diego, asked its 22,000 residents Monday night. Control their use Faucets, showers and washing machines overwhelmed the local sewage system and required 24 hours to recover.
After two homeless shelters flooded, the city of San Diego scrambled to get people into public gyms. The San Diego Central Library also closed due to flooding in its parking garage, while the San Diego Police Department announced that both front counters at its downtown headquarters would be closed for the day. Sandbags were distributed at recreation centers across the city.
“We're pretty spoiled here in San Diego,” said Argelia Ventura, manager of Maggie's Cafe in the Barrio Logan neighborhood. “We knew it was going to rain, but it was surprising how heavy it was.”
Ms. Ventura, 46, watched the rain pour through the restaurant's giant windows and knew it would ease the lunch rush for chile relleno omelets and chile chiles. By noon only about 10 tables were occupied. A family fled only to find their apartment flooded.
“It hurts a lot because usually we go day by day,” Ms Ventura said. She planned to close soon.