Los Angeles, Feb 22, 2017 (AFP) - Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes early Wednesday in the northern California city of San Jose as floodwaters inundated neighborhoods and forced the shutdown of a major highway. Authorities said the flooding -- the worst in 100 years -- was caused after Coyote Creek, which runs through Silicon Valley, burst its banks following days of heavy rain. The area under evacuation covers a large swath of the state's third-largest city, home to about one million people.
About 14,000 live in the area threatened by the floodwaters and more than 200 had to be rescued by firefighters in inflatable boats late Tuesday. Rescuers sprayed polluted muck off of residents before loading them on buses and sending them to shelters set up in schools and community centers. The evacuation order came after the Coyote Creek crested to a historic 13.6 feet, nearly four feet above the flood stage. The Coyote Creek swelled after an area reservoir overflowed. "This is a once-in-a-100-year flood event," National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Gass was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times. "This is a record level." Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo acknowledged that authorities had not anticipated the magnitude of the disaster and should have acted more quickly in ordering the evacuation. "Any time we're showing up in boats to get people out of their homes, there's been a failure," he said. "Clearly we fell short if the first time folks are hearing about having to get out of their home is when we're showing up in a boat." It was unclear when residents would be allowed back into their homes.