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An annual holiday food and toy drive held at Qualcomm Stadium was cut short Tuesday morning, after water from the Murphy Canyon Creek spilled into the parking lot creating a deep channel of water.
In some places, the water was one to two feet deep, said Evan McLaughlin with the San Diego Labor Council. The group hosts The Holiday Food and Toy Drive at the stadium every year.
A berm that holds the Murphy Canyon Creek gave way, spilling water in the eastern end of the Qualcomm parking lot, said Bill Harris, spokesperson for the city of San Diego's Storm Water department. He estimates the break is about 20 feet across.
The creek has become overgrown making it difficult for the creek to hold water within the creek's banks, Harris said.
The creek flows directly into San Diego River, Harris says he expects to reach flood stage by this afternoon. He said this will be the first time in several years that the river has reached that level.
This morning's event was scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., but the rising water forced stadium officials to close off the parking lot just after 10:30 a.m. For a short amount of time, no cars were being allowed in or out of the stadium parking lot.
Organizers for the Holiday Bowl were also setting up with in the parking lot, when the water started to rise.
The city plans to have emergency crews come in to shore up the creek so the Holiday Bowl festivities can continue, Harris said.
Despite the water, Labor Council volunteers were able to provide hundreds of needy families with some Christmas spirit.
"We served about 500 families and about 25 were not admitted because of the rain conditions due to the San Diego River," McLaughlin said. The remaining 25 will served at the union's office in Mission Valley.
Each family was given food and toys to help them celebrate the winter holidays.
Although the rain forced them to shut down, the union says they were happy to serve their community.
"I think we are going to make a pretty merry Christmas for some kids out there," said Lorena Gonzalez, CEO of the San Diego Labor Council, AFL-CIO.