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Crews Scramble To Reopen Northbound Hwy 101 In Morgan Hill

MORGAN HILL (CBS SF) -- Northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 101 just north of Morgan Hill were shut down Tuesday because of a canal failure caused by Anderson Reservoir spillover.

Santa Clara Valley Water District crews were brought in to build a makeshift dam to divert the floodwaters off of the highway.

While Caltrans initially estimated the highway's northbound lanes wouldn't reopen until Wednesday at 11 p.m., crews late Tuesday said that they hoped to have lanes open in time for the morning commute and possibly as soon as by 1 a.m.

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The incident is the latest in a series of problems caused by the overflowing lake and the runoff from the dam's spillway into Coyote Creek, which runs from Morgan Hill through San Jose and into San Francisco Bay.

Just east of the highway and Coyote Creek, the Coyote Canal - which contains stormwater below the freeway grade - failed as the rushing water burst through a levee.

The two northbound lanes of U.S. 101 were submerged late Tuesday morning, prompting the California Highway Patrol to close northbound traffic at Cochrane Road.

"Unfortunately, due to the storms, a levee blew out on Highway 101. That then flooded the freeway," said Santa Clara Valley Water District Spokesman Aaron Baker.

Drivers caught in the gridlock said it was very slow going Tuesday.

"I have been stuck for two hours already or more," said driver Lisa Corpuz.

"I saw the semi-trucks going through that water and then they shut it down," said commuter Alan Dizdarevic.

All of the water being released from the Anderson Reservoir coupled with days of non-stop rain has created havoc downstream along Coyote Creek.

The creek spilled its banks overnight, rising perilously close to nearby homes where residents were preparing for the worst.

"We're sandbagging my friend's house and the neighbor's homes as well, said local resident Michael Reen. It's a team effort."

It's been more than a decade since water last cascaded over the spillway at Anderson Reservoir. Neighbors are amazed at how quickly we've gone from a drought to a deluge.

"We went up there a few weeks ago and it was 50 or 60 percent full," said neighbor Chris Ericksen. "Now, it's going over the spillway. It's just insane."

Additionally, three north and southbound lanes of Highway 101 were also shut down at McKee Road Tuesday night because of flooding.

The water flowing from the Anderson Reservoir spillway has caused flooding downstream from the rising creek. Aside from closed roads in north Morgan Hill, Coyote Creek flooding wiped out a homeless encampment in south San Jose, and forced the rescue of five people stranded by the water.

Farther north, residents of the Bevin Brook neighborhood near Senter Rd. and Phelan Ave. in San Jose were evacuated by rescue crews as the water level from the creek reached the top of cars.

Much of the flooding was centered near the Los Lagos Golf Course near Kelley Park. San Jose city officials have declared a local emergency and called for voluntary evacuations of neighborhoods along the creek.


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