Epic cleanup begins after New Year's Eve flooding submerges SF businesses

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Monday, January 2, 2023
Epic cleanup begins after NYE flooding submerges SF businesses
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The Bay Area is cleaning up and drying out after the New Year's Eve storm dumped near-historic amounts of rain.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Area is cleaning up and drying out after the New Year's Eve storm dumped near-historic amounts of rain.

There was an epic clean up happening inside Rintaro Restaurant on 14th Street in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood.

Heavy rains brought at least three to four feet of floodwater rushing into the café on Saturday.

"I noticed the water started to pool on the streets then coming in the front," said owner Sylvan Mishima Brackett.

MORE: Level 2 storm causing flooding on Bay Area roads, highways

He says his staff was preparing bento boxes for New Year's when things spiraled into an emergency after wooden flood gates failed.

"We had half of us standing on the tables, the rest of us inside. At one point, there was nothing we could do but evacuate. I had people line up, jump into chest deep water to wade into the streets -- crazy," he said.

Mishima Brackett's parklet was anchored, but it's now up on the sidewalk after it nearly floated away.

A person was spotted floating down 14th street. Floodwater busted through the door of MotoHaus. Ziki Abed's Motorcycle storage business was quickly underwater.

MORE: Here's a look at the severe flooding that has drenched Bay Area roadways, damaged property

"Within 15 minutes, the garage busted, water poured in, this place was full in half hour," Abed said.

A big clean up now underway, damage estimates are still unknown.

Rainbow Grocery on Folsom Street was flooded, a sign on the door telling customers the store was closed. Employees, dressed in PPE were cleaning up inside.

"I'd say this is the worst flooding we have seen, and we've had flooding before," said Yilda Campos from Rainbow Grocery.

MORE: New Year's Eve storm 2nd wettest day on record for San Francisco

"We are doing sanitizing and a lot of deep cleaning right now," said Michael Kelley from Rainbow Grocery.

Many cars were left submerged, and some got towed away. Kristina Kaiser wasn't optimistic about her Ford Escape.

"The car was totally flooded, the engine lights flashing, i don't know if it's fixable," said Kaiser.

Restaurant worker Feliciano Cintas says he dug debris out of storm drains during the storm to ease the flooding.

MORE: Preliminary 5.4 earthquake strikes near Rio Dell in Humboldt Co., USGS says

That way, finally the water was going down," said Cintas.

Many business owners blame storm drains for not working properly after more than five inches of rain fell in the city but the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission told ABC7 News in a statement:

In this area, clogged catch basins were not a cause of the flooding. Rather this was an extreme weather event that exceeded the capacity of any system.

Many are hoping 2023 starts better than the stormy way 2022 ended.

"I've lived here 15 years. I've never seen anything like this ever," Kaiser said.

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live