Bay Area Wet Weather Sparks Crashes, Flooding, Rescues, Outages

A second round of storms this week caused a barrage of trouble early Friday morning, including the death of a motorist in Oakland, the rescue of a person from "frigid" waters in a San Jose creek, widespread flooding and power outages.

A fatal crash blocked all westbound state Highway 24 lanes beginning at 4:45 a.m. in Oakland near 51st street, according to the California Highway Patrol. And a Sig-alert was issued 30 minutes later, but lanes were reopened by 6:30 a.m. Other notable crashes occurred in San Francisco at Harrison and 18th streets, and a portion of 10th Street in Pittsburg was closed for at least four hours Friday morning after a car accident took down some power lines.

CHP said they  were responding to about a dozen calls every 30 minutes during the peak of the rain.

Tow truck companies, collision repair businesses and tire shops are also seeing increased business.

"It's a lot worse when it's raining and we haven't had a lot of rain this year, so I don't think people are quite used to it yet," said David Reeder, who co-owns All Day Towing in Hayward.
In the South Bay, two young women tried to drive through a heavily flooded area on Highway 87  at Taylor Street in downtown San Jose, when their white car got stuck in a lot standing water. One of the women, who did not want to be identified, told NBC Bay Area she left her car and took a cab home.

Caltrans is blaming copper thieves for flooding the freeway.

Another driver, Salvador Garcia, also got stuck in about four feet of standing water on Santa Clara Street under the railroad bridge by SAP Center. He just didn't realize how deep the water was. He called 911 for help. A dispatcher told him to stay in the car. He didn't listen.

"The water just started flooding in," he said. "The last thing I was going to do was stay in there."

Garcia was one of at least two drivers whose car was trapped in standing water under the Diridon Station bridge at Santa Clara and Cahill streets.

Also in San Jose, firefighters rescued a person from "frigid" water from Coyote Creek near the San Jose Municipal Golf Course.

In San Francisco, the heavy storm caused many trees to topple over.

Around 5 a.m., a 20-foot tall tree was reported down on 37th Avenue between Irving and Judah streets, DPW spokeswoman Rachel Gordon said. The tree was blocking the entire street before crews cleared it, she said.

Other trees fell onto cars on Clement Street and 44th Avenue and in the 1400 block of Kirkwood Avenue in the Bayview. No injuries were reported in any of those incidents, Gordon said.

A large tree limb also fell on the sidewalk on Gough and California streets.

Southbound lanes on the Great Highway between Lincoln Way and Sloat Boulevard remain closed because of flooding, Gordon said. The stretch of road along Ocean Beach closed Wednesday evening when the first round of heavy rain dumped down on the region.

And throughout the Bay Area, the wet and windy weather knocked down power lines, causing thousands of PG&E customers (about 7,000 customers in the North Bay and nearly 1,700 customers in the East Bay) to be without power late Thursday. Flash flood warnings were issued for parts of San Mateo County.

The rain, which is much needed as California is suffering through a drought, is now also causing headaches for other parts of the state, too.

Mandatory evacuations were in effect for some of Los Angeles on Friday, as rain, snow and gusty winds brought threats of flooding and mudslides. At one point, a man and two dogs were rescued from the Los Angels River's rising flood waters.

And in San Diego, lifeguards were on alert because of high surf and high tide warnings, as rain brought as much as 10 inches in the mountains there.

The rain is expected to last through Saturday.

 Bay City News Service and NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith, Shelby Hansen and Kimberly Tere contributed to this report.

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