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Storm floods San Pedro streets, homes

January 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
With water flooding the streets and into homes, many San Pedro families were displaced due to huge downpour.Wednesday evening, San Pedro residents saw a familiar sight to what they saw Tuesday. Flooding streets and water creeping higher and higher.

The intersection of Third Street and Pacific Avenue experienced street flooding. Also, at Fourth Street and Grande Avenue, water began to build very quickly and started spilling over the curbs. Cars in that area ran the risk of getting stuck, so officials blocked off certain streets in order for crews to clear the storm drains and pump water out.

Approximately 21 families in San Pedro have been displaced due to flooding in their homes, and many have lost much of their possessions to water damage.

Tuesday and Wednesday, it rained so hard and fast that the water overwhelmed the storm drain system. Residents say that the drains were so clogged that it made things worse.

San Pedro residents were left with a mess. Wednesday, many were sweeping water out of their homes and tossing out soaked bedding, rugs and furniture.

San Pedro resident Renee Avila said his home was dry until firefighters opened his front door.

"When the firefighters came and they opened the front door, most of the water came in," described Avila. "It was pretty bad. Computers, everything, shoes, beds, everything was destroyed."

"It was just raining a little bit and then it was raining hard. Next thing you know, little by little, it was getting flooded, flooded and flooded," said Carlos Rodriguez, another San Pedro resident.

Rodriguez said that everything in his apartment is ruined. Tuesday night, Rodriguez, his wife and their 4-month-old daughter had to move in with his parents. He said that the streets flood a lot, but this is the first time that water rose high enough to flow into houses.

"I'm just going to clean and get everything organized. I'll get new carpets and check anything leaking in the apartment that I can fix, and I'll prepare for the next rain to come in," said Rodriguez.

Walls clearly show the high water marks going as high as four feet in some houses. The water came in deep enough that officers had to rescue residents from their homes.

"The first residents were a woman with her infant child trying to get out , and they just described it as a scene from the movie, "Titanic" with literally water rushing through the windows," described Capt. Rick Wall of the LAPD.

San Pedro wasn't the only place that flooded. Water backed up in Long Beach, trapping a tow truck operator that tried to wade through.

Cal Trans was forced to close a portion of the 710 Freeway when the downpour flooded the roadway.

Wednesday, L.A. City Utility crews thoroughly cleaned out storm drains in San Pedro, but residents fear that if they get more heavy rain, the drains won't be effective enough to stop the flooding.

"As a precaution, we're going to remove the screens that are intended to keep trash and big objects from getting into the storm drain system," said Enrique Zaldivar director of L.A. City Department of Public Works.

Wednesday, L.A. councilwoman Janice Hahn visited San Pedro residents.

"I think what happened yesterday has had a damaging effect on these people and their homes. They're going to need a lot of help to rebuild their lives," said Hahn.

San Pedro resident Carla Gonzalez said she believes the city was at fault for the massive Tuesday flooding because the drains were clogged up.

"Everything got ruined, our shoes, clothes. Everything got ruined," said Gonzales.

Residents are anxious to see how the drains will perform when the next downpour starts.