Dangerous floodwaters got 'deeper and deeper' as epic storm submerged San Diego

Grace Toohey, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

Dan Pryor initially called a friend to bring over a shop vac Monday morning when floodwaters started creeping into his San Diego home.

But in a matter of minutes, the volume was no match for even the most heavy-duty vacuum.

"It's like half an inch, but in a few minutes, the seeping water turned into 3 inches," said Pryor, 49. "Next thing I know, it was 12 inches, then it got to about 18 inches, and I was like, 'OK, this is getting really scary.' "

He knew he and his 15-year-old daughter, home sick from school, needed to escape — and fast. While he tried to grab some items from his safe, the water in their Southcrest rental kept rising.

Unable to open their front door because of the water pressure outside, they climbed out a window with their elderly Chihuahua, Jessie. They landed in waist-deep water and tried to maneuver up their street, which had been transformed into a fast-moving river.

"The water was getting deeper and deeper. ... That's so incredibly scary to think if we were there for two more minutes," Pryor said. "I'm real happy that we're both alive."


Pryor's family was one of hundreds in San Diego caught in dangerous flash floods Monday when a storm dumped historic rainfall on the region. By Wednesday, many were busy with arduous cleanup.

Like other neighbors in Southcrest, Martha Navarro sorted through her soggy, muddied and waterlogged home, navigating the aftermath of what city officials called a "thousand-year storm."

"Our floorboards are lifted because of the water. Our walls are warping; our drawers in our kitchen, they don't even open anymore," said Navarro, who lives not far from Pryor. "It's basically everything that we own, and now we have to start basically all over again."

San Diego officials said Wednesday that they were focused on recovery efforts, with teams still trying to address storm drain failures that probably contributed to the flooding, as well as assisting with trash and debris removal. Two of the city's 15 pump stations remained out of service; six were overwhelmed during Monday's storm.


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