Flooded Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dents res­cued as ma­jor storms re­cede

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - NEWS - By Mar­cio J. Sanchez and Janie Har

Res­cue work­ers used boats and firetrucks to evac­u­ate dozens of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dents from their flooded homes Wed­nes­day as a drought-bust­ing se­ries of storms be­gan to move out of the re­gion after days of heavy rain and snow that top­pled trees and cre­ated havoc as far north as Port­land, Oregon.

Re­ports of the flood­ing started about 2 a.m. Wed­nes­day as wa­ter from a quickly rising creek in the small ru­ral town of Hol­lis­ter del­uged homes on a twolane stretch of road called Lovers Lane.

Tor­rents of rain gushed down the street even after res­cuers fin­ished evac­u­at­ing res­i­dents more than seven hours later. Some homes had mud­lines about five feet high, mark­ing how far the wa­ter rose. The wa­ter by that time was re­ced­ing but still waist-deep in places.

“It’s just a lot of wa­ter,” said Kevin O’Neill, emer­gency ser­vices man­ager for San Ben­ito County. “Fields that look like lakes. The ground just can’t soak it up. Ve­hi­cles that are partly sub­merged, homes have wa­ter dam­age.”

Life­long Hol­lis­ter res­i­dent Ted Zanella, 54, called the flood­ing a rare event.

“I feel bad for the peo­ple who were evac­u­ated,” he said, “but in a weird way, it’s Mother Na­ture’s way.”

Fore­cast­ers said pre­cip­i­ta­tion would con­tinue through Thurs­day, but the brunt of the back-to-back sys­tems fueled by an “at­mo­spheric river” weather phe­nom­e­non had passed after de­liv­er­ing the heav­i­est rain in a decade to parts of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Nevada.

The mas­sive rain and snow­fall that prompted a rare bl­iz­zard warn­ing in parts of the Sierra Nevada moun­tains is help­ing much of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia re­cover from a sixyear drought. The se­ries of storms has also added 39 bil­lion gal­lons of wa­ter to Lake Ta­hoe since Jan. 1.

Stormy weather ex­tended north where Port­land, Oregon and South­west Washington were slammed with a sur­pris­ing foot of snow, un­usual for an area that nor­mally sees rain. Crater Lake Na­tional Park in Oregon closed Tues­day and into Wed­nes­day with more than 8 feet of snow on the ground.

The stag­ger­ing snow to­tals in the Sierra Nevada — up to 11 feet the past week at some ski re­sorts around Lake Ta­hoe — was great for eas­ing drought con­di­tions but bad for area ski en­thu­si­asts as road clo­sures and avalanche threats kept most re­sorts closed for the third day in a row Wed­nes­day.

Dan Lavely, who moved to Lake Ta­hoe in 1968 and now lives in Reno, had planned to spend his days off Mon­day and Tues­day on the slopes of the Mount Rose ski re­sort south­west of Reno, where he has a sea­son pass.

“In all my years, it’s so rare to have too much snow,” Lavely said. “Hav­ing a sea­son pass, you pretty much live for these con­di­tions. You want 2 or 3 feet of fresh pow­der, and you want to go play in it.”

In South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, as the lat­est round of rain ta­pered off, a small mud­slide com­pro­mised a con­crete pa­tio on a Lau­rel Canyon hill­side above Hol­ly­wood, Los An­ge­les Fire Depart­ment spokes­woman Mar­garet Stewart said. No one was hurt but a stretch of Lau­rel Canyon Road was closed.

About 2,000 peo­ple in Wil­ton, a ru­ral com­mu­nity near Sacra­mento, were asked to leave their homes Tues­day evening as emer­gency crews worked to try to bol­ster a levee along­side the Co­sumnes River.

The river reached flood level early Wed­nes­day, leav­ing some farm­land flooded and roads blocked off.

“I haven’t heard of any­one who ac­tu­ally had dam­age yet, but the wa­ter is still com­ing down­hill,” said Mary Camp­field, 62, who has lived in Wil­ton for 31 years. “Out­reach was good and peo­ple are watch­ing out for each other.”

Near Sacra­mento, a small tor­nado tore tree limbs and ripped awn­ings late Tues­day, Na­tional Weather Service me­te­o­rol­o­gist David Rowe said.

SAN­TI­AGO ME­JIA — SAN FRAN­CISCO CHRON­I­CLE VIA AP

Lorin Doele­man uses a kayak to check her flooded home on Wed­nes­day in Guerneville She is mov­ing her be­long­ings to her Sacra­mento home. Fore­cast­ers said the brunt of a weather sys­tem had passed after de­liv­er­ing the heav­i­est rain in a decade to parts North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Nevada.

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