Latest California Storm Leaves At Least Two Dead, Breaks Levee

Another violent storm raged in California overnight through Saturday, forcing thousands to evacuate and resulting in at least two deaths, while a levee in coastal Monterey County gave way.

“We had hoped to avoid and prevent this situation, but the worst-case scenario occurred when the Pajaro River flooded around midnight and the dam was breached,” said Luis Alejo, a Monterey County supervisor, Saturday on twitter.

Local residents told AFP they were alerted in the middle of the night by local firefighters to evacuate.

“Just the noise of the fire department – their sirens and all – woke us up,” said Moses, who has lived in the area for around 20 years and preferred to use his first name only.

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He said officers came later and knocked on his door several times, but he decided to wait until 5 a.m. to make a decision.

After returning home from observing the flood, Moses said that water was beginning to cover his street.

“So I said to my wife, ‘Hey, we have to get out of here,'” he said.

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The area remained under a flood warning Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

On Friday evening, the chief of state emergency services, Nancy Ward, announced that the storm had already claimed at least two lives.

Images posted by the state’s National Guard account on Twitter showed Guardsmen rescuing residents trapped in their cars by flood waters.

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At least one road was washed away in Santa Cruz County north of Monterey.

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Residents in several towns, mainly in the north, have been ordered to evacuate.

An unusually intense and seemingly endless series of storms has ravaged California for weeks.

The latest storm was expected to drop up to 23 inches of rain on already saturated ground.

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This latest storm is part of a powerful atmospheric flow known as the “Pineapple Express” – because of the warm, subtropical moisture it brings with it from Hawaii – and will accelerate the melting of the enormous snowpack that has accumulated at higher elevations.

The resulting runoff is already threatening to aggravate severe flooding.

In Pajaro on Saturday, the fire service and national guard deployed drones to monitor the flooded areas and search for people stranded in their homes, AFP reporters saw.

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Two cousins, Angel Martinez and Christian Garcia, waded through the water carrying a plastic bag of food from the kitchen.

They told AFP their neighborhood is a “wreck,” with water running three feet deep in their backyard.

All they could take with them was cell phone chargers, some blankets and a first aid kit as they were hastily evacuated.

US President Joe Biden passed an emergency declaration on Friday, clearing the way to accelerate federal aid to the western state.

Biden called Gov. Gavin Newsom Saturday to reiterate full federal support for the impact of flooding and landslides on the state, according to a White House pool report.

Newsom said California is using “every means we have to protect communities from the unrelenting and deadly storms that are sweeping our state.”

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Storms in January were blamed for the loss of 20 lives.


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