Hollister residents cope with sudden evacuation, flood waters remain

HOLLISTER, Calif. (KGO) -- More than 100 residents of Hollister in San Benito County found themselves not only battling heavy rain, but also rising waters. These elements forced them to evacuate their homes in the dark of night.

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A fast-rising creek flooded houses and caused some of them to evacuate by boat. Pachecho Creek turned into a raging river, spilling into pastures and vineyards and quickly threatening houses.

The Vasquez family was first urged to evacuate, but then ordered to get away from the advancing flood waters. Blanca Vazquez escaped on someone's back. "Piggyback ride, piggyback ride. It wasn't that deep," she said. "I had boots on so we could walk through but it was pretty bad."

Matt Clapp's house and garage flooded, damaging the floor, carpeting and walls. A neighbor alerted him at 1:30 a.m. how fast the water was rising. "It was about two or three feet deep out there, moving fast." said Clapp. "So it came out there from a break somewhere and it was coming around the house, coming down the road and then it came across that pasture at the same time."

It was apparent to many residents Pachecho Creek was primed to flood. Years of drought allowed trees and ground vegetation to take over the dry creek bed, creating logjams when the heavy storms hit. The creek is the dividing line between Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

No one living nearby minded the sudden call to evacuate.

"It's dark and it's cold and it's pouring down rain," said Alicia Rudnicka. "You don't know where the roads are. The roads are flooded and then you're in danger."

The creek began to recede as the rain stopped, giving residents a chance to clean up.

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