Biden declares disaster in California as heavy rains continue

Biden declares disaster in California as heavy rains continue

US President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster in California after the latest in a series of storm systems swept through the state, bringing massive flooding to already waterlogged regions.

“Waves of heavy rain continue to batter California,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said on Twitter.

“Heavy rain will continue to bring the threat of flooding and mudslides/landslides. Hazardous travel due to heavy mountain snow and snow from (California) to (Colorado).

Much of the upstate town of Felton was under water on Saturday, as it had been on New Year’s Day and again on Monday.

“I’m so angry, it just makes me want to cry,” said Camilla Shaffer, a Briton whose home was flooded for the third time in two weeks.

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

“Within 10 minutes it had completely flooded the ceiling. It happened crazy fast,” said the 23-year-old. “We had to canoe from a neighbor.”

“I hope this isn’t the new normal,” sighed Melissa Foley, pushing a wheelbarrow full of Red Cross-donated cleaning kits, which she distributes to her neighbors.

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”, the White 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.

Rescuers have called off the search for 5-year-old Kyle Doan, who was swept away by floodwaters as his mother tried to pull him from their car, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday, citing rising waters and conditions uncomfortable.

An AFP reporter saw the Salinas River bursting its banks at several points, sometimes covering farm fields for hundreds of meters, as the rain continued under leaden skies.

In Spreckels, a community a few hundred meters from the river, most residents chose 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.

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

“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.


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