Emergency public safety responders rescued nearly two dozen people and 16 animals from their homes in northern San Benito County as pouring rains and rising floodwaters engulfed homes, streets and properties Jan. 9, according to authorities.
A total of 23 people were rescued from Lovers Lane, starting in the early afternoon, according to San Benito County Public Information Officer Monica Leon. Of the 16 animals rescued, 15 were dogs and one was a cat.
The rescue efforts were complete by early in the evening Jan. 9, Leon said. No injuries were reported.
More than 35 response units from the San Benito Sheriff’s Office, Hollister Police Department, CalFire, Hollister Fire, San Benito County Search and Rescue and animal control services were on scene to assist in the emergency rescue.
The rescued residents had stayed at their homes despite numerous flood warnings and evacuation notices throughout the week—which escalated to a mandatory evacuation order by around 12pm Jan. 9. County officials had begun warning Lovers Lane residents to prepare to evacuate on Jan. 4 as Pacheco Creek looked to be on pace to swell over its banks, Leon noted.
Sheriff’s personnel went door to door to notify residents of the danger in person, and tacked paper notices on the homes where there was no answer, Leon added.
When the order to evacuate was called on Jan. 9, emergency responders set up a mobile command site near Lovers Lane, knowing that some residents were still home, Leon explained.
By the time the Jan. 9 rescue operation started, only 11 people in the evacuation order zone had voluntarily left, and 80 either did not answer the door or declined to leave their homes, Leon said. Even as emergency responders were rescuing some Lovers Lane residents, 39 people still refused to leave their flooded properties.
“Water rises fast, and there was a significant amount of rain to create this flooding,” Leon said.
The most recent storm, which lasted from Jan. 9-10, dumped up to three inches of rain on some areas of South Valley. With the ground saturated from a line of strong storms in recent weeks, many waterways in the region didn’t have much time to subside before the latest downpour, according to weather experts.
As of Jan. 10, mandatory evacuation orders were still in effect for Lovers Lane, as well as Lake Road, San Felipe Road from Highway 156 to the county line, Dunneville Estates and portions of Shore Road from San Felipe Road to Frazier Lake Road, according to county officials.
The residents and animals who were rescued Jan. 9 were transported to a temporary evacuation center established at the Hollister Veterans Memorial Building.
Leon and other county officials urge people to keep an eye on the county’s website and social media accounts for the most updated information about the weather, flood warnings and road closures.
An interactive map showing road closures and other disruptions can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/3zdswjx3.
“We are currently putting up updates and monitoring all the notifications about the weather, and monitoring all water levels,” Leon said.