Rain forces evac­u­a­tion of shel­ter

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Alex Rig­gins alex.rig­[email protected]­tri­bune.com Rig­gins writes for the San Diego Union Tri­bune.

SAN DIEGO — Rain and flood­ing Thurs­day night prompted the evac­u­a­tion of more than 300 home­less peo­ple from a tent shel­ter in the Bar­rio Lo­gan area near Petco Park, a shel­ter of­fi­cial said.

The flood­ing at the shel­ter run by the Al­pha Pro­ject oc­curred amid heavy rain and a coun­ty­wide f lash f lood warn­ing from the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice. The Al­pha Pro­ject’s 324 clients — the shel­ter was at ca­pac­ity Thurs­day — were taken to a tem­po­rary shel­ter at San Diego County Credit Union Sta­dium in Mis­sion Val­ley.

“It was ma­jor flood­ing. There was noth­ing that we could have done,” said Amy Gonyeau, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of the Al­pha Pro­ject. “The wa­ter was like 3 feet high in places. It was re­ally crazy. I’ve never seen it like that.”

Ac­cord­ing to the weather ser­vice, down­town San Diego re­ceived 2.27 inches of rain be­tween 8 p.m. Tues­day and 8 p.m. Thurs­day.

The sud­den on­slaught of pre­cip­i­ta­tion Thurs­day evening that prompted the flash flood warn­ing over­whelmed low-ly­ing ar­eas through­out the county, in­clud­ing the tent shel­ter near New­ton Av­enue and 16th Street.

“It all hap­pened so fast, it was crazy,” Gonyeau said. “But the staff is safe, the clients are safe, and the city was great.”

Gonyeau said city of­fi­cials quickly sent sev­eral Metropoli­tan Tran­sit Sys­tem buses to trans­port the shel­ter’s clients to the sta­dium. Po­lice ra­dio traf­fic in­di­cated the buses car­ry­ing the shel­ter evac­uees trav­eled in a car­a­van to the sta­dium a lit­tle af­ter 11 p.m. Flood­ing at the shel­ter had be­gun sev­eral hours be­fore.

The Al­pha Pro­ject site and two oth­ers like it, which are op­er­ated by dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions, shel­ter about 700 peo­ple and opened around the start of the year. They were pro­posed as bridge shel­ters, mean­ing they were in­tended to be a bridge from the street to a home.

Along with the Al­pha Pro­ject’s 324-bed lo­ca­tion, which is for home­less adults, Fa­ther Joe’s Vil­lages op­er­ates a 150-bed site down­town for fam­i­lies and sin­gle women, and Vet­er­ans Vil­lage of San Diego op­er­ates a 200-bed shel­ter for vet­er­ans in the Mid­way Dis­trict.

“Dam­ages are yet to be de­ter­mined,” Gonyeau said. “We have no idea when we’ll be able to re­open.”

Ed­uardo Con­tr­eras San Diego Union-Tri­bune

SUD­DEN pre­cip­i­ta­tion over­whelmed low-ly­ing ar­eas through­out San Diego County, in­clud­ing the Al­pha Pro­ject tent shel­ter in the Bar­rio Lo­gan area.

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