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Local storm drains overwhelmed by downpours

January 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Flooding is again a concern on Thursday for people living along the coast. Many homes have already been inundated with rain, and entire city blocks are under water. The place where Cal State Long Beach students would usually lounge or study won't be a place to relax for quite some time.

"Now it's our new swimming pool," joked Dave Edwards, director of student union.

Crews dug a gaping hole in the basement floor of the student union to get to an 8-inch pipe that contributed to major flooding. The university has yet to pinpoint the exact problem, but it appears Tuesday's downpour was more than the storm drain's 40-year-old pipe could handle.

"It created this huge river flowing down through the basement of the student union," Edwards said.

Eighteen inches of water filled the hallways, forcing people to evacuate the building. The second floor also sustained water damage.

The campus closed because of the severe weather, but students are still on break so classes were not affected.

A restoration company worked to repair the student union, hoping to have it ready when the new semester begins on Monday.

"We're going to be well into the probably hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage here in the building," Edwards said.

The northbound lanes of Lakewood Boulevard were closed overnight near the Long Beach Airport, between Willow and Spring streets, because so much rain water collected in the Lakewood Boulevard underpass. Crews, sweepers and even people with brooms worked to clear out the water all morning long on Thursday.

Storm drains have been overwhelmed during this week's downpours, causing major flooding at many intersections.

The rain has been pounding Southern California all week. In San Pedro, vehicles were nearly submerged by water on local streets.

Businesses have also sustained water damage. Store manager David Ko said he was working when he heard a loud noise outside.

"I came outside, I see the whole wall is on the floor. Inside the store, it was actually knee-high," Ko said. "The shelves were all knocked down, all the machine equipment's just all damaged. You wouldn't ever think that in Southern California, you would have floods like this."

Crews have been trying to alleviate all the flooding on surface streets by removing the grates from storm drains. The grates are in place to keep trash from going down into the drains, but they're also slowing the movement of water down the drains.

The storm brought not only rain but gusty winds. The winds pushed a tree on top of a car in San Pedro on Myerler and 2nd streets. There was a driver inside at the time, but the victim did not receive serious injuries. Rescuers were able to free the driver, who was trapped for an unknown amount of time.