TIJUANA (Border Report) — The recent storm that swept through the San Diego-Tijuana region is being blamed for the deaths of two young sisters who were killed when a landslide crushed their Tijuana home as they slept early Monday morning.
Rescuers were able to save the siblings’ 3-year-old sister and parents.
“Since 1993, we haven’t seen this amount of rain in such a short period of time,” said Aroldo Rentería Quezada, director of Tijuana’s Civil Protection.
Rentería Quezada stated the city was expecting about an inch of rain through Monday, but got almost 3 inches instead.
“It saturated everything,” he said.
Rain has been falling for almost nine consecutive days in the region.
“We’ve had about 6 inches of rain on top of what we got during the weekend,” said Rafael Carrillo Venegas, chief of Tijuana’s Fire Department. “This is atypical for the season, we know there are problems when we have continuous rain, and this has been known to cause landslides.”
Carrillo said seven such events were reported in Tijuana from Friday until Monday.
One of those took place when a retaining wall, built out of tires, gave way taking out the house where the two girls were sleeping.
The victims are 7-year-old Clarisa and her 13-year-old sister Mayela.
“We tried to help,” said Filiberto Figueroa one of the neighbors. “We’re somewhat disappointed, all of us who tried to help with shovels and our bare hands, because we couldn’t rescue everyone.
Benjamín Martínez, the girls’ grandfather, said they are now trying to get duplicate birth certificates required to bury his granddaughters.
He also said the girls’ parents and young sister remain hospitalized.
“The retaining wall with the tires collapsed,” said Martínez. “Those walls are dangerous to the people who put them up and those below.”
Tijuana’s fire department said it took rescuers six hours to recover the bodies.
“The constant rain made it more difficult to work and rescue the girls,” Carrillo said.
He also reported that two others, a 15-year-old girl and an adult woman, were rescued at different landslides and home collapses.
According to the city of Tijuana, the storm knocked out power to 80,000 customers, including several shelters in the area.
“We went two days without electricity,” said Yesenia, one of the migrants at the shelter.
The power has been restored to most of the people affected, but some remain without service.
The city is also reporting firefighters have responded to 51 storm-related calls including fallen trees, poles, walls, landslides and serious car accidents.
“This is the first time water has ever gotten inside my home,” said an unidentified resident. “It’s the worst flooding I’ve seen in my 51 years of living in Tijuana.”