Biden declares disaster as California takes another storm-pounding – International – World
The latest system was expected to bring “heavy lower-level rain, significant mountain snow and gusty winds,” with “another surge of Pacific moisture” expected on Monday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
He predicted “catastrophic flooding” in the lower Salinas River Valley, a key agricultural region south of San Francisco Bay.
Late Saturday, Biden “declared a major disaster in the state of California and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in areas affected by severe winter storms, flooding, mudslides and mudslides.” of mud,” White said. House said in a statement.
The statement makes federal funds available for relief to 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 rockfall.
Rising waters and rough conditions halted the search for 5-year-old Kyle Doan, who was caught in floodwaters as his mother tried to pull him from their car, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday .
An AFP reporter saw the Salinas River bursting its banks at many points, sometimes covering farm fields for hundreds of meters, even as the rain continued under leaden skies.
In Spreckels, a community a few hundred meters from the river, most residents had chosen not to evacuate despite warnings from authorities.
“It looks like we may have kind of missed the worst of it,” said Robert Zagajeski, walking his dog in a light rain.
A few miles away, 30-year-old farm worker Erick Diaz looked out over flooded fields from his riverside home. Despite orders to evacuate, he too had remained.
“I have nowhere to go and for the moment everything is fine,” he said.
But Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Californians they weren’t in the clear yet: “We’re not done,” he said Saturday after visiting affected residents.
Urging them to remain vigilant, he said Californians should continue to exercise “common sense over the course of the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Nearly 26 million Californians remained under a flood watch Saturday evening, according to the NWS, with tens of thousands under evacuation orders and advisories.
Storms in recent weeks were initially welcomed — coming after years of drought — but have so far brought “catastrophic” flooding, officials said.
As of 08:00 GMT on Sunday, there were more than 16,000 homes without power in California, according to poweroutage.us.
“This country was 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 of rain (5.0 to 7.5 centimeters) could trigger new flooding and mudslides, with parts of the Sierra Nevada seeing three to six feet of snow and strong winds hitting central California and coastline up to 50 miles. (80 kilometers) per hour.
– Dangerous journey
The US’s most populous state has been hit by near-record rainfall over three weeks — an average of 9 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 the entire city of Salinas, home to 160,000 people, could be hit by flooding.
But on Saturday, an AFP reporter said the city itself had so far been largely spared.
Amid the storms, workers rushed to clean up some of the mess, shoveling mud from streets even in the heart of Los Angeles and using heavy machinery to remove fallen trees or clear rockslides.
An AFP reporter saw tractors in fields near Salinas struggling to pump floodwaters back into the river. The new rain was not helping the effort.
And forecasters say the unsettled weather in the U.S. West — tied to what’s called a river atmospheric pattern — hasn’t panned out.
Over the mountains, heavy snow was making travel dangerous or impossible on a three-day holiday weekend to honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Officials urged people to stay indoors due to an increased risk of avalanches.
Authorities in the Lake Tahoe resort area posted photos showing dozens of vehicles lined up on a road blocked by a severe storm.
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.