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New Storm Coming, More Bodies Found in Tijuana

January 15, 1993

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) _ The discovery of more bodies has raised the city’s official death toll from last week’s storms and flooding to 17, and a new rain storm was expected to strike the flood-ravaged region tonight.

Rapidly rising water threatened reservoirs.

Across the border in California, rain developed along the coast today in advance of a storm from the Gulf of Alaska that was expected to hit the region tonight, said the U.S. National Weather Service. One to 3 inches of rain was forecast along the southern California coast with 4 to 5 inches in the mountains and more heavy snow was possible in the Sierra Nevada.

Rainfall totals in the region already have reached more than twice the seasonal average. In downtown Los Angeles, a storm Thursday delivered 3.08 inches of rain and raised the season total to 13.59 inches, compared with a normal of 6.11 inches. The month’s rainfall total was 8.13 inches.

Water rose rapidly Thursday behind Rodriguez Dam in eastern Tijuana.

Engineers opened two floodgates when the reservoir was about 75 percent full. But runoff from earlier storms was flowing into the reservoir nearly three times as fast as the floodgates let water out, officials said.

Water from that dam spills into the Tijuana River, which bisects Tijuana before flowing across the border and along the southern edge of San Diego.

In Tecate, the La Encantada reservoir was reported near the breaking point at one stage Thursday, but Guillermo Parra of the Tijuana Emergency Office said at midnight there was no immediate danger unless more heavy rain falls.

If that reservoir were to break, water would cut the highway which connects Tijuana with Mexicali, the Baja California state capital 120 miles away, Tijuana Mayor Hector Osuna Jaime said.

Rescue teams and work crews on Thursday discovered a man’s body in Matadero Canyon, just south of the U.S. border. The day before, the bodies of a couple were found.

Nearly four dozen Tijuana neighborhoods still are too flooded to reach by vehicle. And the city’s water mains have been broken in 25 places.

Residents of many poor neighborhoods that haven’t yet received any aid from the city gathered in front of the municipal auditorium, where relief supplies are being warehoused, and demanded food.

Others left city-provided emergency shelters, complaining that they had received little help there and preferred to take their chances in damaged homes and flooded neighborhoods.

Elsewhere in Baja California, local authorities and Mexican army soldiers worked to move supplies into - and people out of - sections of the transpeninsular highway that have been cut off by flood damage for more than a week. Hundreds of U.S. tourists have been reported among those stranded.

In California, Thursday’s storm spawned a tornado in Buena Park in Orange County that traveled several miles, snapping trees, blowing windows out of a car dealership, ripping up signs and fences and knocking out a power substation.

Fierce wind uprooted at least 50 trees and damaged three homes in Pomona early Thursday, said Fire Department spokesman Ron Gomez.

Waves topping 10 feet rolled ashore Thursday and lifeguards kept inexperienced swimmers out of the water.

″This stuff is hairy. Real hairy,″ said Santa Monica Beach lifeguard Lt. Dan Cromp.

Update hourly