Unexpected family reunion at San Jose flood evacuation center

- As the city of San Jose works to help people return to their homes, some areas are still uninhabitable.

City officials said late Wednesday night there are 164 people spending the night at the James Lick High School evacuation center.

KTVU spoke with a woman who still can't go home and one man who was able to return home.

The generous donations arriving at the evacuation center at James Lick H.S. offer comfort. Alex Perez and his wife, Nikki, went shopping and bought essentials to help those who've lost their belongings.
 
"We're at home just watching TV. We'd seen the people here struggling. And you know what?..let's do
our part," says Alex Perez, "Let's help our city. That's what we did."

By giving, the couple says they've received a unexpected gift.

At the evacuation center, they found a relative they've lost touch with for two decades--an aunt evacuated along with her family.

"I was happy to see her. I haven't seen her in so many years. We haven't seen each other," says Audelia Miranda, who was evacuated from her home. She cried as she hugged Nikki Perez.

Miranda tells KTVU her apartment along Coyote Creek is still submerged in flood waters, contaminated and uninhabitable.
 
Over at Evergreen High's evacuation center, single father Keith Thomas has an extra spring in his step.

He's going home with his two-year-old son, Houston.

Thomas says he received word Wednesday evening that he can go home, but says he would have gone back regardless.

He says he was evacuated as a precaution when the water rose quickly, but that there is no damage to his apartment. With his son and dog safe, he considers himself lucky.

"It's rough. It could be worse. Still got these guys, so that's all that matters," says Thomas with a laugh.

For those who cannot go home, these two high schools will no longer be an option starting Monday when students return from winter break.

"In a happy world, everybody gets back by next week. But I don't want to make any promises because we just don't know how long it's going to take to make some of these neighborhoods safe," says San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Shelter options will include churches, mosques or community centers, should there still be a need beyond this week.

"I just feel like I'm lost, no place to go. I hope I get my apartment back," says Miranda.
 
Despite the uncertainty, Miranda tells KTVU she has renewed hope now that she's been reunited with relatives.

As of late Wednesday night, city officials say there are a total of 273 people at the two evacuation centers; that number slightly lower Tuesday night.

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