On January 5, 1916 rain began to fall on San Diego, California. Two tropical storms had, by chance, collided together over the city, creating one massive storm. The situation was made even worse by an amateur scientist by the name of Charles Hatfield.
A San Diego Tragedy
Knowing that San Diego was experiencing a long drought at the time, Hatfield offered to use his patented invention that sped up precipitation in exchange for money. Hatfield and the two storms hit within a few days of each other and by January 10 a steady, heavy rain was falling all over the city. At first, the townspeople of San Diego were overjoyed by the rain—long had they and their crops endured the incessant, dry heat.
But as the days passed, joy slowly morphed into fear. By January 18, all of the local rivers and dams had flooded. Several valleys were underwater and dozens of buildings and livestock herds were swept away with the raging water.
Within days, hundreds of people had lost their lives, while many others lost their livelihood. The flooding went down as a historical disaster in California history. Fast forward several decades.
Many contemporary buildings and businesses have been established throughout San Diego, including the Las Americas shopping outlet. Amongst the fervent shoppers and beautiful displays, you may be hard pressed to find someone who knows about the tragic flood…and yet it now stands in a place where eighty people lost their lives a hundred years ago. “I was absolutely stunned when I first learned about the 1916 flood and the horrible effects it had on San Diego,” said nearby resident Stephanie, shaking her head.
A Shopping Trip Turns Deadly…
“There’s so much fake news out there, I just assumed it was someone’s sad version of a joke, you know? But that all changed when I went to the Las Americas outlet last week,” she added in a much more somber tone. “I was window shopping, preparing for Christmas, when I spilled some coffee onto my blouse.
“I found a rarely used restroom down a narrow hallway between two stores and made my way inside. It had three stalls, but I immediately went to the sink. As I stood there, scrubbing at my shirt, I kept feeling as though I was not alone in the bathroom,” she said with a small shiver.
“I crouched down and looked under the stalls, but I didn’t see any feet. I tried to ignore how creeped out I felt and just concentrated on my shirt. But that’s when I began to hear what sounded like feet, shuffling around on the tile floor, echoing all around me.
“By that time I was so scared, I didn’t care if my shirt was permanently ruined…I just had to get out of there,” she admitted with a grim nod. “I lunged for the door and yanked it open. My husband is convinced that I lost my balance, but I swear on my life it felt like someone laid two hands on my back and pulled at me, trying to keep me in the bathroom.
“I cried out and swung my purse around like a maniac until I felt the presence leave. I ran out of that bathroom in tears,” Stephanie said quietly. “I think San Diego will forever be haunted by people who lost their lives in that awful flood.”
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