A large tree and debris clogged one of the city’s storm drain systems forcing Highway 101 near Santa Rosa Street in San Luis Obispo to close for at least four hours on Thursday.
“All of that water had to go somewhere, and that water ended up going in and around that apartment [complex],” said Battalion Chief Ray Hais, City of San Luis Obispo Fire Department. “They had approximately, six to eight inches of water inside of their apartment.”
Six people living in four units located in the 900 block of Olive Street were forced to evacuate.
Erika de Leon was among them.
“I have to work in the morning, so I’ll have to figure it out as it goes,” De Leon said.
All that water left a tree barely standing.
“Part of the backyard of one of the apartment complexes started sloughing off into the creek and part of that apartment is actually now in danger of falling into the creek,” Hais said.
This rain also caused flooding in parking lots and creeks.
“The city of San Luis Obispo is located in a watershed surrounded by hills, so when it rains, the creek levels rise rapidly, so San Luis Obispo Creek has risen rapidly but it’s about six feet below the top of the bank,” explained Matt Horn, Director of Public Works for the City of San Luis Obispo.
A number of car crashes were also reported throughout the day, including a three-vehicle collision on Highway 101 near Avila Beach Drive.
“I’m one of those slow drivers on the road when it’s raining and I ask you to be too,” urged Hais. “That's the safest way to drive when it’s raining - good visibility, making sure you don’t hydroplane and just being very careful out there. We are going to have rain for the next week.”
The City of San Luis Obispo’s Public Works crews will be on the lookout for other flooded areas regardless of the holidays.
“Making sure that pipes are functioning properly, there’s no debris flow blocking things, so there’s a dozen or more staff just monitoring the storm situation right now and of course, we have all of our emergency services available as well,” Horn said.
San Luis Obispo City Fire said the residents displaced due to the storm will be staying at a hotel until it is safe for them to return home.