Biden declares disaster in California as heavy rains continue

US President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster in California as the last of the successive storm systems erupted in the state, bringing heavy floods to already flooded areas.

“Heavy waves of precipitation continue to hit California,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said on Twitter.

“Heavy rain will continue to threaten flooding and landslides/landslides. Dangerous journey from (California) to (Colorado) due to heavy mountain snow and blowing snow.”

Much of the northern town of Felton in the state was flooded on New Year’s Eve and again on Saturday as well as Monday.

“I’m so angry I want to cry,” said Camilla Shaffer, a Briton whose house has been flooded for the third time in two weeks.

Amberlee Galvin, a chef at a local restaurant, was another victim, her front room completely flooded.

“Within 10 minutes it completely flooded the ceiling. It happened so fast,” said the 23-year-old. “We had to be taken out in a canoe by a neighbor.”

“I hope this isn’t the new normal,” sighed Melissa Foley, pushing a wheelbarrow full of cleaning kits donated by the Red Cross and handed out to her neighbors.

The White House said late Saturday that Biden “declared a major disaster in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to support State, tribal and local rescue efforts in areas affected by severe winter storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides.” said in a statement.

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The Declaration provides federal funds for assistance to affected people, including temporary shelter and repairs.

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

Citing rising waters and unsuitable conditions, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office said on Saturday that rescuers halted their search for Kyle Doan, a five-year-old who was swept away by floodwaters as his mother tried to pull him out of their car to safety.

As the rain continued under gray skies, an AFP reporter saw the Salinas River overflow its banks at many points, sometimes covering hundreds of yards of farmland.

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

“Looks like we may have missed the worst,” said Robert Zagajeski, walking his dog in a light rain.

But Governor Gavin Newsom, after visiting affected residents on Saturday, warned Californians that it wasn’t clear yet: “We’re not done,” he said.

He urged them to be vigilant, saying that Californians should continue to exercise “prudence for the next 24 to 48 hours.”

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According to the NWS, nearly 26 million Californians were under flooding on Saturday evening, with tens of thousands more under evacuation orders and recommendations.

Officials said the storms in recent weeks, following years of drought, were initially welcomed but have so far brought with them catastrophic flooding.

More than 16,000 homes in California were without electricity around 0800 GMT on Sunday, according to poweroutage.us.

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

The NWS said another two to three inches (5.0 to 7.5 centimeters) of rain could cause new floods and landslides, three to six feet of snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada, and strong winds swept central and coastal California up to 50 miles. He said he threw up. (80 kilometers) per hour.

dangerous travel

The most populous US state has been rocked by three weeks of near-record downpours – an average of nine inches of rain fell – with the Salinas Valley among the hardest hit.

On Friday, forecasters warned that the Monterey Peninsula could be closed and the entire city of Salinas, home to 160,000 people, could be affected by flooding.

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But on Saturday, an AFP reporter said the city itself has largely been spared so far.

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

An AFP reporter saw tractors struggling to pump floodwaters back into the river in the fields near Salinas. Fresh rain was not helping the effort.

And forecasters say the unstable weather in the western United States — associated with what’s been called the atmospheric river model — is not over.

High in the mountains, heavy snow made travel dangerous or impossible on the three-day holiday weekend commemorating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Authorities urged people to stay in their homes due to the increased avalanche risk.

Officials at the Lake Tahoe resort have released photos showing dozens of cars stuck on the road in a heavy snowstorm.

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

At the same time, the western United States has been getting drier for years.

(AFP)

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