Chollas Creek Debris Causes Home Flooding, Claim San Diego Residents



Residents of Southeastern San Diego experienced severe flooding, with homes flooded and cars swept away due to an unusually heavy January storm which brought about three inches of rain within a six-hour span. Many residents blamed the flooding on a clogged Chollas Creek which hadn’t been cleaned by the city for several years. The city’s Stormwater Department attributed the flooding to a combination of the heavy rainfall and an “aging stormwater system with limited capacity.”

Unprecedented January Storm Causes Severe Flooding in Southeastern San Diego

Residents of Southeastern San Diego were left puzzled and distraught as an unusual January storm caused severe flooding, resulting in mud and debris-filled homes and vehicles being swept away.

The communities of Southcrest, Encanto, Mountain View, and Lincoln Park were among the hardest hit, experiencing some of the county’s worst flooding. The region, which generally averages about 2 inches of rain per month during winter, received an unusual three inches of rain within six hours, according to meteorologists.

Footage shared with NBC 7 showed people on rooftops, escaping the intense flash floods. Images of the aftermath reveal a mud-covered Beta Street and stacked, displaced vehicles. Waters rose as high as an average person’s shoulders inside homes, causing property damage and displacement of residents.

Communities Blame Clogged Chollas Creek for Flooding

Locals in the area attribute the floods to an obstructed Chollas Creek, which flows through the most affected regions. Residents like Julietta Del Rio and Paul Quijano, whose home borders the canal, say the city had not maintained and cleared the creek for decades, leading to the disaster.

Quijano expressed his desire for the city to be transparent about their maintenance plan for the Chollas Creek. This sentiment echoed by other residents, including oldest resident Naomi Phillips-Terry, 88, who experienced similar flooding in 1989.

Residents Demand Better Maintenance and Help

Residents attended a mayor’s news conference at the Red Cross located at Lincoln High School, seeking answers and advocating better maintenance for their neighborhoods. The city’s Stormwater Department attributed the floods to an “aging stormwater system with limited capacity” and heavy rainfall.

Most of the affected residents lack flood coverage because most insurance policies exclude flooding, mudslides, and debris flow. To acquire such coverage, a supplemental “difference in conditions (DIC) policy must be purchased separately, according to the California Department of Insurance.

City Efforts for Cleanup and Restoration

The city’s Environmental Services Department initiated the removal process of trash and debris from the storm-affected areas. Simultaneously, teams from the city’s Transportation Department are addressing street and sidewalk damage. Residents can report any flooding or clogged storm drains using the Get It Done app or by calling 619-527-7500.

This week, the city’s stormwater teams are assessing city levees and storm channels. Six of the city’s 15 stormwater pump stations were overwhelmed during Monday’s storm, with two still out of service. City crews have been working tirelessly to restore them and have received over 500 calls regarding flooding and other issues during and after the storm.

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