San Jose police evacuate people living along waterways as rain pours

In the South Bay, the rain has been coming down steadily and now San Jose police are moving people living along the waterways out of those areas. The City of San Jose declared a state of emergency Tuesday, making it mandatory for anyone living near rivers and creeks to evacuate.   

After a mandatory evacuation order was issued by the City, San Jose police worked to get people living along the Coyote Creek to move to higher ground Wednesday night.  

"Most of the people said no, I’m not going. I’m not going. I was really hoping that they said you have to go and everybody had to go," said Cindy Locs, who lives along Coyote Creek.     

"Heavy rains and flooding are likely. If you are in the banks of the waterway, your life is in danger. You are ordered to evacuate from the creek immediately," said a San Jose policeman talking through the loudspeaker to those still on the Coyote Creek bank.  

City officials don’t know just how many people are living along rivers, creeks and streams, but it could be in the thousands. Santa Clara County data shows that right now, about 10,000 people are unhoused in San Jose. Coyote Creek flooded back in February 2017 after another atmospheric river storm. This time, the city says it’s prepared and will do whatever it can to keep people safe.  

"We will continue to pursue notification and temporary replacement of those folks who are asked to evacuate the waterways. Moving individuals by force is our absolute last resort, and we will do it to ensure their safety. But also to ensure the safety of our public safety officers who may need to respond to emergency situations," said Carolina Camarena, a San Jose City spokesperson.   

Just before the storm moved in, one San Jose resident who lives near Coyote Creek expressed his concern about the homeless after seeing the devastation from 2017.  

"It’s pretty high right now, and if the storm that they say is going to come, this water is going to flood this whole area. This whole area, last time in 2017, the water was up to here. You couldn’t even walk around here," Dion Saunders, a San Jose resident.   

Because the city of San Jose declared a state of emergency, the city now has the power to evacuate and relocate unhoused people living along the waterways. The City and County say shelters and warming centers have expanded their capacity for emergency purposes and transportation is being provided for people being evacuated.  

There have been about eight road closures throughout Santa Clara County this week, but Mayor Mahan says wide-spread flooding is not expected in San Jose. He says crews will be tracking water levels and rescue teams are ready if flooding does occur.