NATIONAL CITY, Calif. -- Last week's storm nearly put an end to a National City tradition that makes the holidays a little brighter for those less fortunate.
A warehouse holding months worth of toys donated to the Spirit of the Holidays meal and toy drive was flooded -- and now the group is scrambling to get more toys.
“The rain was like I’ve never seen it before last Thursday evening,” said Brian Clapper, a Lyons Club member who heads the annual program. Two inches of rain fell on National City, turning major streets into rivers and flooding homes, businesses and the warehouse, filled with tons of donated food and toys for children in need.
“All the toys were on the ground. All the canned goods were soaking wet ... We already had cardboard boxes filled with toys and they were just totally wet and ruined," Clapper explained.
The donations are scheduled to be distributed on Saturday morning, Dec. 15. With just days to go, organizers are scrambling to get more toys so the children will not got without this holiday.
“I was devastated, I was totally depressed," Clapper told FOX 5. I had a bad day and I stayed here the whole day cleaning trying to salvage the toys. I didn’t want to accept the fact that they were ruined.”
In a last ditch effort, volunteers are enlisting the help of the National City Fire Department to help push toy donations for the next three days.
“(It's) heartbreaking, because a lot of our members have done the work to donate those toys,” said Capt. James Stiles. "To find out they got destroyED was devastating. But then we thought, 'Well, what do we do from here?'”
The public is invited to bring new unwrapped toys to the National City Fire Department this Friday. You can bring donations to Station #34, on 16th Avenue and D Street.