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Flood Victims Line Up At Assistance Center In San Jose For Food, Clothing, Peace Of Mind

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- More than a hundred San Jose families lined up at assistance centers Saturday looking for help days after getting forced from their homes by flooding from Coyote Creek.

The Perez family went to the Shirakawa/Vietnamese American Community Center Saturday to try to recover some of what they lost, sifting through piles of clothing and food collected by the school district within a matter of hours Saturday.

The donation center is just one of the ways this community is trying to help families like the Perez's. There, they can find food, clothing and emotional support.

"We had residents lined up at the door before we opened at 9," said Deputy City Manager Kim Walesh.

She said the Shirikawa Community Center opened Saturday. Located at 2072 Lucretia Avenue, it is staffed with non-profits and government agencies ready to help flood victims get back on their feet.

About 140 households had used the center by noontime. Translation services were made available for people speaking Spanish and Vietnamese.

In this flood-ravaged city, more people were able to go home Saturday, but on many blocks evacuation orders are still in place. The cleanup is continuing, as crews in masks, boots and gloves sweep mud and dump trash.

Of an estimated 4,554 housing units, 1,335 were still off limits. Everyone needs help.

"This is a big positive thing we've been able to do to help our community," EOC director Dave Sykes said.

Residents will find services related to housing, insurance and food, among others. Residents can even get a new driver's license if they lost it in the flood because employees with the Department of Motor Vehicles will be there.

Sunday, the center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the week, the center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. City officials expect to keep it open through March 4.

Flood survivors who need transportation to the assistance center can get a free ride to and from through Yellow Cab by calling (408) 777-7777 and giving the driver account No. 1421.

Sykes and Cheryl Wessling, a spokeswoman for the city's Planning, Building & Code Enforcement Department, sought to ease any fears residents have about the rain expected this weekend.

Wessling said the rain could cause ponding but workers are prepared to pump out water if necessary.

"We have boots on the ground," Wessling said. "We have pumps at the ready."

Less than a quarter of an inch of rain is expected between Saturday night and Monday, according to the National Weather Service, city officials said.

Meanwhile Yesenia Perez and her children left the Shirikawa Center with clothing and food. They will stay with relatives until they can return home. She says the donations mean everything.

"It makes you feel like there's people out there that care and that they're there for you.
You see the light and we're gonna get through this, you know?"

For other families, a shelter at James Lick High School at 57 N. White Road in San Jose will be closing Sunday and shelter residents will move to another one the same day, Sykes said. Only one is currently open.

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