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Some residents of San Jose in Northern California who were forced out this week by flooding from a rain-swollen creek returned on Thursday to find their homes stayed dry, but nearly 4,000 people were still under evacuation orders, officials said.
CALIFORNIA STORMS

Evacuees return to flood-ravaged homes in San Jose, CA


Thursday, February 23, 2017, 4:00 - Some residents of San Jose in Northern California who were forced out this week by flooding from a rain-swollen creek returned on Thursday to find their homes stayed dry, but nearly 4,000 people were still under evacuation orders, officials said.

The flooding in San Jose, south of San Francisco, that began on Tuesday in the city of about 1 million people was the worst it has seen since at least 1997.

Trash-strewn, murky floodwaters swamped city blocks in the hub of the high-tech Silicon Valley, engulfing the entire first floors of some homes as firefighters in inflatable boats rescued stranded residents.


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Below: Wil Henninger cuts a carpet soaked in flood water inside the home of neighbor Judy Georges after an overflowed Coyote Creek flooded neighborhoods and prompted an evacuation in San Jose, California, U.S., February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

At the height of the crisis, city officials ordered about 14,000 people to evacuate. 

Waters began receding on Wednesday and it became clear swaths of evacuated areas were untouched, San Jose spokesman David Vossbrink said by phone. Evacuation orders were lifted in those zones and residents are returning.

Nevertheless, floodwaters inundated several neighborhoods in areas stretching from southeast to northeast of downtown, with the Rock Springs section hit hardest, Vossbrink said. It mostly consists of apartment buildings and townhomes. 

More than 1,000 properties, home to 3,800 people, were still under evacuation orders on Thursday, Vossbrink said. It was unclear when they would be allowed home.

RELATED: NorCal reservoir hits capacity, first time in over a decade

Below:Alessio Roic mops up flood water inside the home of neighbor Judy Georges after an overflowed Coyote Creek flooded neighborhoods and prompted an evacuation in San Jose, California, U.S., February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

City inspectors would need to assess for damage in flooded areas and in some places workers were still pumping out water, he said. 

The scope of the damage also remained unknown. Coyote Creek, the waterway that flooded, fell below flood stage on Wednesday but was still flowing at high levels a day later, Vossbrink said. 

With some San Jose citizens saying warnings to evacuate came too late, Mayor Sam Liccardo has acknowledged authorities could have been quicker in alerting people. 

City officials have said they were caught by surprise by the flooding, which came from Coyote Creek and followed heavy rain early this week which forced a reservoir upstream to overflow. 

Models suggested the creek could handle higher flow than it did, Vossbrink said. "Models are never perfect," he added. 

Ultimately, the creek reached a record height of 14.4 feet on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. The Weather Service has forecast light rain will return to Northern California this weekend. 

"If it's light rains we should be in good shape. I think everyone is concerned it's still winter and there will be rain to come later in the season," Vossbrink said.

See impacts of the storms and flooding below.

Below: A man walks towards an awaiting evacuation bus after rescue crews evacuated a developmental home as heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A man attempts to unclog a storm drain on South 20th Street as water continues to rise after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: Rescue crews wade in a flooded neighbourhood after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A man places bags on an awaiting evacuation bus after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A woman walks in the rain during a flood evacuation at the South Bay Mobile Home Park in San Jose, California U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: Rescuers from the San Jose Fire Department pilot boats while evacuating residents of Nordale Avenue after the Coyote Creek flooded parts of San Jose, California, U.S. February 21, 2017. Courtesy of Chris Smead/Csmeadphotography/Handout via REUTERS

Below: A woman carries her belongings during a flood evacuation at the South Bay Mobile Home Park in San Jose, California U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A resident looks out of a window during a flood evacuation at the South Bay Mobile Home Park after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A man gestures as he evacuates from his home at the South Bay Mobile Home Park after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: Vehicles are seen partially submerged in flood water at William Street Park after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A man volunteers to push a wheelbarrow with sandbags toward a flooded home after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: People stand by a flooded street near William Street Park after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A man walks with a child after they were evacuated from their home at the South Bay Mobile Home Park after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A man sits by the flooded Senter Road after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: Firefighters with the San Jose Fire Department extract residents stranded by the flood after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: Vehicles are seen partially submerged in flood water after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A vehicle is seen partially submerged in flood water after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: Firefighters with the San Jose Fire Department inspect a vehicle partially submerged in flood water after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A man carries a generator through flood waters after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: Firefighters with the San Jose Fire Department inspect vehicles partially submerged in flood water after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Below: A child wrapped in emergency blanket walks away from a flooded neighborhood after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Related video: The Morning Glory Spillway, called the “Glory Hole” by locals, spilled over for the first time in 10 years this week. The overflow is a result of a month of recent rains filling the river in formerly drought-stricken California.

Below: A motorist drives on a flooded street as water continues to rise after heavy rains overflowed nearby Coyote Creek in San Jose, California, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

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