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San Diegans Prepare For Flooding, High Surf

Brandon Smith (left) with the Alpha Project outreach team gives a homeless ma...

Photo by Susan Murphy / KPBS

Above: Brandon Smith (left) with the Alpha Project outreach team gives a homeless man a pair of rain boots and a rain jacket ahead of forecasted heavy rains in San Diego, Jan. 4, 2016.

San Diegans Prepare For Flooding, High Surf

GUESTS:

Alex Tardy, warning coordination meteorologist, National Weather Service San Diego

Josh Nelson, public affairs officer, California Highway Patrol

David Alvarez, San Diego City Councilman

Emergency homeless shelters across the county this week plan to open their doors to accommodate more people during the storms.

Special Feature Navigating El Niño

Emergency homeless shelters across the county this week plan to open their doors to accommodate more people during the storms.

Still, hundreds will likely have to endure the cold, wet conditions on the streets.

The nonprofit Alpha Project has been working around the clock ahead of the storms to help those whose lives could be at risk. Monday morning the outreach team was scouring canyons and riverbeds in Mission Valley and distributing plastic sheets and rain gear to the vulnerable population.

That's where they met "Mack." The homeless man didn't want to give his last name but said he plans to ride out the potentially severe weather under a bridge with eight other homeless seniors.

"It is cold," Mack said. "But we are fortunate enough to have the bridge over us to keep us dry and a little warmer as opposed to the people out there. And that's what we're afraid of, is having to go back out there and not have a place to go to."

Alpha Project outreach manager Brandon Smith said he'd be out every day this week working to keep people insulated and warm. He encourages others to help.

"We're collecting ponchos, rain jackets, sweaters, sweatpants, tarps, tents, sleeping bags," Smith said.

Donations can be brought to the Alpha Project headquarters in Hillcrest.

By Matthew Bowler

Clouds hover over Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, Jan. 4, 2016.

Meanwhile, fire and rescue personnel throughout the county are working to help those who have homes to protect.

A flash flood watch has been issued from Tuesday morning through late Wednesday night for San Diego County coastal areas, mountains and valleys.

Fires stations in the city of San Diego handed out free sandbags Monday to help people prepare.

“I would say people kind of wait towards the last minute,” said Dustin Slikker, a firefighter in Pacific Beach. "If the water is already in your house the damage is done.”

And in Mission Beach, where homes and businesses often flood during heavy rainfall, Gavin Kluckman of Surfari Surf School said he and his colleagues are ready for the storm — just in their own way.

San Diegans can pick up sandbags free of charge to protect against flooding.

“I have a longer board that is meant for big waves. I’ve never been more prepared for a storm,” Kluckman said. “Even when it’s raining you're going see some real talented people out on the water.”

A high surf advisory is in effect through 10 p.m. Friday, with waves of up to 15 feet expected. Officials warn those headed into the water that strong rip currents and damage to coastal infrastructure such as piers is likely.

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