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Aftermath: Looking at flood damage across San Diego following historic rainfall

san diego storm street damage january 22 2024
Southcrest residents shovel heaps of mud out of there homes and into the streets.
Posted at 12:56 PM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 15:59:12-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The scale of damage Monday's historic rainfall left behind is unimaginable for some, but for Southcrest and National City residents, it is all too familiar.

Firefighters and lifeguards rescued hundreds of families from homes surrounding Chollas Creek, mainly off Beta St.

Near 38th and 42nd streets is where most of the destruction can be seen.

Residents of Southcrest said they have never seen rain as bad as they did on Monday, and they underestimated how high the water levels would get.

Vanessa Coleman, who lives on Beta St., said once she saw cars being picked up and carried away from their spots, she decided to evacuate her home.

"[My neighbors] they were like 'You need to get out now,'" Coleman said. "The water was up to here in my house, and then it was starting to come through my house, and we didn't open a door to get out. So we opened a window to get out of my house."

shed damaged in san diego storm 1-23-24
A shed was toppled over during Monday's storm in San Diego

Southcrest residents also said a big reason why the water levels got as high as they did from the creek overflowing was because the storm drains were clogged and damaged.

Greg Montoya, another resident living on Beta St., spoke with ABC 10News back in 2019 about a lawsuit he filed against the city for flood damages in 2018.

Montoya said he recently settled out of court with the city, but now the very thing he's been warning the city about has happened again.

"The City of San Diego continues to neglect this area," Montoya said. "I have over 20 years of asking them to fix the flooding in the back, fix the storm drains, and they don't do nothing. I just finished putting in new floors, and it's all ruined now. I got 4 feet of water in my house. I feel very frustrated. It's like, 'God again?' We're going to have to go through this."

Mayor Todd Gloria was in Southcrest Tuesday, speaking with the residents, including Montoya.

After declaring a state of emergency on Monday, Gloria said state and federal leaders have tasked him with being the boots on the ground, traveling to each neighborhood to assess the damage and report back to them.

"Some of these homes are going to be total losses," Gloria said. "It's a miracle no one died, but a lot of property has been damaged and a lot of it is irreplaceable."

In National City, off Paradise Valley Blvd. and East 8th St., a strip of homes was completely washed out almost a year later to the day when it suffered another flood.

Sherry Gogue, who lives on 8th St., said she's devastated.

"My husband just retired and we were planning on great things with this house, and now we have to rebuild for a second time," she said. "This happened one year ago on MLK Day and we lost half our house... Now we lost the whole house."

Gogue said Tuesday is all about salvaging what they can, which will mainly be clothes.

Gogue is also grateful that her family is alive because, on Monday, both her husband and her son were stuck in the waters up to their chests for an hour and a half before they were rescued.

Her neighbor, Rosy Delgado, said she's lived in her home for 47 years. She also spoke about the flooding last year and how she just finished repairs to that flood six months ago.

Now, her home, along with her boyfriend, who is her neighbor, is destroyed again.

"We already claimed for the insurance, but we need to do a lot," Delgado said. "We really need help. The city really needs to help us. We don't have a place to stay. The two homes are gone."

The San Diego Fire Department is reminding everyone to bleach their gloves and shoes after cleaning out storm damage because much of the storm waters were mixed with sewage from broken sewage pipes.