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Record rain causes flooding, prompts rescues in southern California

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

San Diego saw widespread flooding yesterday after a particularly strong Pacific storm pummeled Southern California. The National Weather Service says it was among the wettest days on record in San Diego. From member station KPBS, Alexander Nguyen reports.

ALEXANDER NGUYEN, BYLINE: Yesterday's storms dumped as much as four inches of rain in some parts of San Diego County. It came down hard and fast, flooding low-lying areas within hours. National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tardy says it was too much all at once.

ALEX TARDY: We're seeing almost 25% or a quarter of our annual rainfall in one day.

NGUYEN: San Diego Fire Rescue Department says hundreds were rescued from their homes because of the storm. County officials says dozens of families stayed at Red Cross shelters, and many more may have stayed at area hotels. Jessica Calix (ph) was dropping her son off at school when her neighbor called to tell her their homes were flooding.

JESSICA CALIX: And she FaceTimes me. And she's like, Jessica, Jessica, like, look at this. And she and her children were in the water in the living room.

NGUYEN: Calix lives in Southcrest, one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the flooding. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria declared a state of emergency yesterday. Residents were urged to avoid any unnecessary travel today to allow crews to assess the damage. Tyler Rodenbaugh with San Diego County Flood Control District says the storm was a once-in-a-thousand-year event for at least one community in the affected area, Spring Valley.

TYLER RODENBAUGH: We saw the heaviest rain extend from around downtown San Diego, Point Loma, and then all the way towards about Spring Valley. And in that band, there was roughly about 2 1/2 to four inches of rain.

NGUYEN: The National Weather Service says the storm came from the west, which amplified the devastation. Typically, storms from the northwest would dump more rain in the mountains, sparing most of the populated areas. For NPR News, I'm Alexander Nguyen in San Diego. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Alexander Nguyen

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