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San Diego leaders thank public for taking Hilary precautions

City and county leaders today thanked San Diegans for taking precautions and staying at home during Tropical Storm Hilary as crews continue to assess damages caused by the storm.

The region saw no loss of life caused by the weather, the leaders said Monday.

San Diego Gas & Electric reported that at the storm's peak, 15,000 homes were without power, the utility said. City and county crews are still assessing downed trees, sinkholes and infrastructure damage, but ultimately it appears disaster was averted.


"The way we worked together reflects who we are as a community and as a county," said Nora Vargas, chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. "It shows we are prepared and are ready to take on the biggest challenges."

The region's emergency shelter bed usage was 72%, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said. Some unsheltered people in the cities and unincorporated areas declined the offer of shelter when organizations reached out to them — 13 of those people had to be rescued by San Diego Fire-Rescue Department swift water crews from a flooded encampment in Mission Valley.

"Because of their work, the worst that we feared never came to pass," Gloria said.

He thanked the diligent city employees, but also decried the city's infrastructure as insufficient and reiterated his administration's commitment to stormwater and street improvements.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a State of Emergency on Saturday, with San Diego city and county officials doing the same. Newsom met with Gloria on Saturday at the San Diego Emergency Operations Center to discuss emergency preparations.


On Monday, the San Diego City Council voted 7-0 to approve the emergency declaration.

County crews ultimately distributed more than 100,000 sandbags at central locations throughout the county's municipalities and received a shipment of 100,000 more from the state before the storm hit.

"Today we focus on assessing damages," said Jeff Toney, director of the county's emergency services department. "This assessment will continue over the next several days.

Eric Dargan, San Diego's chief operating officer, said the city was able to evacuate people experiencing homelessness from its 20th and B shelter to the second floor of Golden Hall — which only two weeks ago was the shelter for families before they were moved to a different shelter in Barrio Logan. They will be relocated to the 20th and B shelter as soon as it is deemed safe, Dargan said.

Additionally, the city released water from three of its reservoirs during the storm, at Barrett, El Capitan and Hodges.

Dargan warned residents to be on the lookout for backed up storm drains and that "potholes will happen."

Three climate stations in San Diego received record rainfall for the month of August, just with Sunday's rainfall, according to the NWS.

— Escondido, 2.66 inches, breaking the record of 2.20 inches in August 1945;

— Vista, 2.12 inches, breaking the record of 1.78 inches in August 1977;

— Cuyamaca, 4.11 inches, breaking the record of 4.10 inches in August 1977.

Winds gusts of up to 50 mph swept through San Diego, and were up to 70 mph in the mountains.

Hilary weakened from hurricane strength to a tropical storm early Sunday off the coast of Baja California.

San Diego online services were still be available Monday, including Development Services Department permitting services.

On Saturday, the U.S. Navy ordered San Diego-based ships out to sea to protect them against the storm. Those vessels included the carrier USS Nimitz and the destroyer Halsey.

The tropical storm watch was the first ever issued in Southern California, according to the National Weather Service. A tropical storm has not made landfall in California since 1939.

Corrected: August 21, 2023 at 5:46 PM PDT
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said a total of 15,000 homes lost power during the tropical storm, it was 15,000 at the peak of the storm.
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