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Los Angeles County billionaire gives $5 million to San Jose flood victims relief fund

A Southern California billionaire has donated $5 million to a relief fund to help victims of massive flooding last week in San Jose, city officials announced.

Kieu Hoang, of Westlake Village, gave the money to the San Jose Flood Victims Relief Fund on Wednesday, the city announced in a news release. The donation brings the fund’s total to more than $6 million since it was launched last week.

Hoang owns a blood plasma company and a Napa winery, and has an estimated $3.8-billion fortune.

City officials say they, along with Chieu Van Le, co-founder of Lee’s Sandwiches, worked with Hoang to secure the donation.

“I'm humbled by the kindness of Mr. Chieu Van Le and the generosity of his good friend Kieu Hoang who reached out to me yesterday to help the flood victims,” San Jose City Council member Tam Nguyen said in a statement. “And I am pleased that the mayor has been prepared to accept this wonderful donation from Mr. Hoang and will see to it that his wish be fulfilled and that the victims will be helped in a timely manner."

The money will go toward financial and housing assistance for flood victims, such as hotel vouchers, home furnishings, vehicle repairs and rental subsidies.

The flood followed weeks of winter rain, during which Coyote Creek, which runs through the heart of the city, swelled to record levels around Feb. 21.

As neighborhoods were besieged by floodwaters, firefighters used rafts to rescue infants, elderly residents, pets and others trapped in homes. Firefighters also rescued homeless residents clinging to tree stubs near the creek’s banks, many holding tightly to plastic bags containing their belongings.

The trouble began days earlier, when Santa Clara County’s largest reservoir reached its capacity and water began flowing down its spillway. Heavy rains exacerbated the spill over the next 36 hours, advancing the flows from Anderson Reservoir into Coyote Creek.

The National Weather Service issued two flood warnings, the first before 4 a.m. on Feb. 20, the second about 17 hours later, before water started pouring into San Jose homes.

But some residents in the William Street area, one of the worst-hit neighborhoods, said they received no warning from the city via cellphone alerts and that no local authorities came knocking before floodwaters started rising.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna.

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