Emergency evacuations affect more than 200 in South Bay as Coyote Creek floods

SAN JOSE (BCN)— A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for hundreds of homes in the southern part of San Jose today as the waters of flooded Coyote Creek continue to rise.
   
The order is in effect for roughly 300 homes, mostly apartments and town homes, in the area around Kelley Park that since this morning have been suffering under about four feet of floodwater from the nearby creek, according city spokesman David Vossbrink.
   
"We're not expecting the waters to start to recede until late tonight," Vossbrink said. "They've been rising all day and may continue to rise still."
   
"We haven't had anything approaching this in 20 years," Vossbrink said. "This one, by most accounts, is beyond anyone's experience here in San Jose and Santa Clara County."
   
So far about 40 people have been evacuated to James Lick High School and residents are being told to shelter there until they can arrange more permanent accommodations, Vossbrink said.
   
Evacuees are also being sent to shelters set up at the Shirakawa Community Center at 2072 Lucretia Ave. and the Mayfair Community Center at 2039 Kammerer Ave.
   
People were being routed to the Roosevelt Community Center at 901 E. Santa Clara St., as well, until it was determined that it might be too close to Coyote Creek and could prove difficult to get to as the waters continue to rise.
   
Residents are urged to leave their homes with only the most necessary items, including pets and medications, and head for the shelters as soon as possible.
   
Persistent storms that have rolled into the region over the past weeks, combined with water rushing down the spillway of the Anderson Reservoir, which is now filled to capacity, are blamed for the flooding.
   
The creek began flooding areas around the Los Lagos Golf Course and near Kelley Park in South San Jose earlier this morning and fire rescue crews have had their hands full pulling stranded residents from their homes.
   
So far today boat crews have pulled five people from a flooded homeless encampment near the golf course and evacuated dozens of homes and businesses in the neighborhood near Kelley Park, according to San Jose fire spokesman Capt. Mitch Matlow.
   
"We have a neighborhood that's basically underwater," Matlow said.
   
City officials have declared a local emergency and also issued a call for voluntary evacuations of other neighborhoods along the creek, which traverses the length of the city from Morgan Hill to the San Francisco Bay.
   
"It's an uncontrollable flow at this point," Matlow said. "How much water we're going to get here and how high it's going to rise, we don't know."
   
People are being warned to stay away from standing water, avoid downed trees and power lines and to get out of any area where water appears to be rising.
   
Flooding is wreaking havoc on the region's streets, as well, forcing the closure of northbound U.S. Highway 101 between Cochrane Road in
Morgan Hill and the Bailey Road in San Jose since about 10:30 a.m., according to Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus.
   
The lanes aren't expected to open to traffic again until 11 p.m. Wednesday, Haus said.
   
Also, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has rerouted the 73 bus line from Senter Road in South San Jose and, on the other side of town, the 63 line from Berryessa Road in both directions due to the flooding.
   
The 68 line has also been rerouted from Santa Teresa Boulevard.

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