Biden declares disaster as California takes another storm-pounding

The latest system was expected to bring “heavy rain at lower elevations, significant mountain snow, and strong winds,” with “another surge of Pacific moisture” expected Monday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

He predicted “catastrophic flooding” throughout the lower Salinas River valley, a prime agricultural region south of San Francisco Bay.

Late Saturday, Biden declared “a major disaster in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to augment State, tribal and local recovery efforts in areas affected by winter storms, floods, landslides and mudslides,” White . The House said in a statement.

The declaration provides federal funding for relief for affected people, including temporary housing and repairs.

At least 19 people are known to have died from storm-related causes in the past three weeks.

Among them were drivers found in submerged cars, people hit by falling trees, and a husband and wife killed in a rock fall.

Rising waters and unsuitable conditions halted the search for five-year-old Kyle Doan, who was swept away in floodwaters as his mother tried to pull him to safety from their car, the San County Sheriff’s office said Luis Obispo Saturday.

An AFP journalist saw the Salinas River overflowing its banks in many spots, sometimes covering farm fields for hundreds of yards, even as the rain continued under dull skies.

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In Spreckels, a community a few hundred yards from the river, most residents chose not to evacuate despite warnings from authorities.

“It looks like we may have missed the worst of it,” said Robert Zagajeski, out walking his dog in a light rain.

A few miles away, 30-year-old farm worker Erick Diaz watched the flooded fields from his home near the river. Despite evacuation orders, he too remained.

“I have nowhere to go and right now everything is fine,” he said.

But Governor Gavin Newsom warned Californians that they were not clear yet: “We are not finished,” he said Saturday after visiting affected residents.

Urging them to remain vigilant, he said Californians should continue to exercise “common sense during the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Nearly 26 million Californians remained under a flood watch Saturday afternoon, according to the NWS, with thousands under evacuation orders and advisories.

The storms of recent weeks were initially welcome — coming after years of drought — but have now brought “catastrophic” flooding, officials said.

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Around 0800 GMT Sunday, more than 16,000 homes were without power in California, according to poweroutage.us.

“This place has been hit hard by the drought in recent years,” 58-year-old farm worker Manuel Paris told AFP near Salinas. “We are not used to the rain much more.”

The NWS said two to three inches of rain (5.0 to 7.5 centimeters) could cause new flooding and mudslides, with parts of the Sierra Nevada seeing three to six feet of snow, and heavy winds battering central and coastal California. with 50 miles. (80 kilometers) per hour.

– Dangerous travel –

The US’s most populous state has been hit by the near-record downpour over three weeks — an average of nine inches of rain has fallen — with the Salinas Valley among the hardest hit.

On Friday, forecasters warned that the Monterey Peninsula could be cut off and that flooding could hit the entire city of Salinas – home to 160,000 people.

But on Saturday, an AFP journalist said that the city itself had so far been largely spared.

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Between storms, workers have been cleaning up some of the mess, shoveling mud from roads even in the heart of Los Angeles and using heavy machinery to remove fallen trees or clear rock slides.

An AFP journalist saw tractors in fields near Salinas fighting to pump flood waters back into the river. Fresh rain was not helping the effort.

And forecasters say the unsettled weather in the Western US – associated with what’s known as an atmospheric river pattern – isn’t done.

Over the mountains, heavy snow was making travel dangerous or impossible on a three-day holiday weekend honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Officials urged people to stay at home because of a higher risk of flatulence.

Authorities in the Lake Tahoe resort area posted pictures showing dozens of vehicles on the road, stopped by a fierce storm.

Winter storms are not unusual in California. But global warming is making them wetter and wilder.

At the same time, the western United States has been growing more arid for years.

This story was published from a wire agency feed without text modifications.

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