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San Diego issues flood evacuation warning for low-lying areas as storm looms

mayor gloria speaks on storm preps
Posted at 2:30 PM, Jan 31, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — As Thursday's storm approaches the San Diego area, an evacuation warning was issued for people who live in the areas most impacted by the flooding from Jan. 22, Mayor Todd Gloria announced during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Gloria emphasized that this warning is voluntary in nature; however, should the city escalate it to an evacuation order, police officers would go door-to-door to tell people.

LIVE BLOG: Strong storm brings heavy rain, potential flooding, high winds to San Diego region

“This warning is voluntary. It is designed to encourage residents in these flood-prone communities to prepare if, or when, an evacuation order does become necessary,” Gloria says. “Residents in these areas should consider gathering important documents and belongings and make sure you have a plan to move yourself and your family out of harm’s way should major flooding occur... We want to make sure we keep everyone safe as the next storm approaches.”

The mayor also announced during the press conference that a shelter is being established at Balboa Park's Municipal Gym. The city will provide transportation to the shelter for those who need it.

In a press release issued around 4:15 p.m., the city says it sent text messages about the evacuation warning to people living in the floodplain areas in these neighborhoods: Southcrest, Mountain View, Encanto, San Ysidro, Sorrento Valley and Mission Valley.

The city says the warning applies to low-lying areas that endured flooding on Jan. 22.

Deputy Chief Operating Officer Kris McFadden says no matter how much work they do, the infrastructure in San Diego is not in good enough shape to handle another storm like last week's.

"Chollas Creek, to be very clear, it's at best a 10-year storm event that it can contain," he says. "So that's very important to know, even though it's getting cleaned out. Anything beyond a 10-year storm event is still going to surcharge, and because of this, the houses are in the floodplain in so many areas."

The mayor added that even after cleanup, the ground is still saturated, and if the current forecast holds, there will likely be flooding again this week.

"Are there any lessons learned from the past week that are being implemented for this upcoming storm?" 10News reporter Spencer Soicher asked during the press conference.

"What I need to draw more attention to is the need for medium and long term housing assistance," Gloria says. "That is an urgent concern right now. We still have folks who may not be able to access their properties for some period of time."

You can watch the full press conference below.

ABC 10News reported on the following areas experiencing heavy impact from the last storm that may also be at risk this time around:

  • Mountain View
    • Ocean View Blvd, from 36th to 42nd St
    • 4100 Block National Ave
    • Kipp Adelante Prep Academy
  • Southcrest
    • Beta and 37th, 38th
  • Golden Hill
    • 30th and J St
  • Spring Valley
    • La Presa, near Kempton and Jamacha Road
    • Kempton Elementary School
    • Bancroft Elementary School
    • Broadview, Parkbrook, Elkelton and Noeline towards Enfield
  • Mission Beach
  • Point Loma
    • 3700 Midway Drive
  • North County
    • EB SR 79 at El Camino Real
    • Leucadia Main Street, Around 810 N Coast Hwy 101
    • Miramar sinkhole: 8100 Miramar Road
  • South Bay
    • Hoover Ave in National City
    • Rohr Park in Chula Vista
    • TJ River Valley
    • Dance Studio 102 E 16th Street National City
    • 900 Block Division St in National City
  • Coronado
    • Country Club
    • PAWS Animal Shelter (1300 block of 1st St in Coronado)

Soicher also asked the mayor if he'd support funding measures to try to bring the city's stormwater system up to date.

"We have to. We have to have more revenue. There's no two ways about it: The size of this task is measure din the billions," Gloria says.

San Diego County has provided the following data to provide more context on the storm response so far (see full documents: special meeting powerpoint, supervisors agenda item):

  • Initial Damage Assessment: 
    • $90 million across the region
    • $4.1 million for the county
  • Residential damage: 
    • 2,991 people self-reported
    • 525 assessed as major damage
  • Assistance center (Spring Valley)
    • 777 households helped, roughly 2,000 people
  • County damage reporting tool
    • Nearly 2,800 submissions and growing

The county is also reallocating $10 million towards storm response, and those funds come from the American Rescue Plan.