SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – All along Hein Nguyen’s Rock Springs neighborhood stand piles of debris from households destroyed by the floodwaters of the Coyote Creek.
Like many in the neighborhood, Nguyen immigrated to the United States and spent years putting together a home for her family. Now, the furnishing lay outside stacked up in a pile to be haul away.
“It’s very heartbreaking because we lost everything,” she said. “It’s totally destroyed because everything was contaminated by the toxic water.”
The story is much the same for her neighbor Jose Nunez.
“It’s a total loss,” he said. “It’s all basically gone down the drain. I couldn’t save anything.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who was among the volunteers helping with the cleanup Sunday, said his first priority was helping the displaced residents.
Then he said his office will attempt to find out if the devastating flooding could have been prevented.
“What we have to do now is focus on helping the families,” he said. “And in the days and weeks ahead, we’re got to fix this because it can’t happen again.”
Meanwhile, residents of all but three properties affected by the flooding on Tuesday can now re-enter their homes.
Building inspectors completed inspections and only three of the 4,554 homes in mandatory evacuation areas remain off limits because they are unsafe, assistant city manager and emergency operations director Dave Sykes said.
Residents can go inside their homes but those that have yellow tags on them will need work before residents can move back in.
The three unsafe homes, which are in the Williams Street Park neighborhood, have red tags on them. They will require additional structural evaluation and repairs before they can be occupied again.
Homes with green tags on them are safe to enter and occupy, according to city officials.