As southern California dug out of damaging winter storms, there was growing anxiety in Northern California that another round of punishing rain and snow forecast for this week would further tax the region’s already strained flood control systems.
Parts of Northern California are already on track to have the wettest winter ever recorded, and that has placed strain on river, dam, levees and other water works in places including the Central Valley that are prone to flooding.
“(For) almost all of Northern California we are going to be telling people to get ready for area flooding,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Rasch. “It just doesn’t take much rain to cause many problems ... which is only going to exacerbate all the current situations going on.”
Many Northern and Central California dams are close to capacity thanks to all the rain. And some communities experienced flooding.
Water was still a foot high in Maxwell, a small rural town in Northern California’s Colusa County, on Saturday morning. Crews had to evacuate 100 people in the town about 2 a.m. because of flooding, some by boat.
“At least 50 older wood-framed and stucco homes took in water,” said Jim Saso, assistant sheriff of Colusa County. No reported injuries were reported.
As debris-laden water the color of chocolate milk rushed past Bill Barrett’s driveway, he nodded toward a row of hills in the distance and said, “The runoff of heavy rains slid down those hills last night and turned this place into a bathtub.”
The trouble started at about 4 a.m. Saturday when Barrett, a retired firefighter, was awakened by a report issued from the emergency radio scanner by his bedside, about law enforcement assisting a neighbor out of his home.
“I jumped out of bed to help,” said Barrett, 80, a 47-year resident of this small agricultural community.
Shaking his head, he added, “There have been floods in this town before. But nothing like this one.”
Blanca Velasquez, 31, was sloshing ankle-deep up and down Maxwell’s flooded San Francisco Street on Saturday afternoon with an iPhone pressed to her ear, trying to find a clear signal to reach worried friends and relatives.
Like many neighbors, she was awakened early morning by sheriff’s deputies banging on the front door and yelling, “It’s flooding! Get out! Get out!”
“We all threw on some clothes and galoshes and headed to the door,” Velasquez said. “When I stepped outside and took a look around, the streets were rivers.”
She and her three siblings jumped in their pickups and “drove off in the dark searching for dry ground.”
A block away, she said, “one lady was floating down Orange Street in a boat.”Read More...
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