HOLLISTER (KPIX) — A levee break along Pacheco Creek that caused flooding Wednesday morning in parts of Hollister on Thursday was spurring a new health warning for residents in the area.
On Thursday, environmental health officials were in the area telling residents that there were concerns that the tap water in many homes may be contaminated.
Officials were telling the public not to drink the water out of their faucets until further notice.
Health officials distributed water bottles at the OES Command Post at Dunville Shore Road and San Felipe Road Thursday afternoon to provide locals with safe drinking water.
KPIX 5 cameras hitched a ride on Ted Zanell’s all-terrain vehicle Thursday, getting about a quarter mile off road near Lovers Lane to a spot where the rain from this week’s storms turned into a disaster in the Hollister area.
“This is where the break is right here,” said Zanell. “Water was coming through this area.”
A massive breach on the Pacheco Creek levee was plainly visible.
Scars on the sides of the earthen levee showed how the river sliced right through it, creating a hole about 60 feet wide and 30 feet deep.
It broke at about 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“Because of this,” said Zanella. “This is what flooded all of northern Lover’s Lane.”
At the same time, Pacheco Creek was cresting and flooding the south side of Lovers Lane at the San Felipe Road bridge.
The one-two punch let floodwaters loose on dozens of unsuspecting neighbors on both sides of the creek.
Hollister fire crews and volunteer from the neighborhood rescued 15 people by boat and another 30 by truck.
“Search and rescue did a good job of notifying people,” said Zanella. “But I just don’t think they had enough time. I don’t think they knew what was coming.”
The water flooded hundreds of acres of farmland, stranding livestock and ravaging people’s homes.
Hollister resident Matt Clapp said the current was too strong to even stand up in.
“It was moving pretty good,” said Clapp.
His home was flooded by about two feet of water. Thursday, the floors were drying out as he started the dirty job of cleaning out inches of river muck from all corners of the rooms.
“The flood plane ends at the next property, so I’m not required to have flood insurance. So I don’t because it’s very expensive, said Clapp. So I gambled and I lost this time. We’ll see what happens.”