Northern Calif. residents begin cleanup - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Northern Calif. residents begin cleanup

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Posted: Monday, January 2, 2006 5:39 am | Updated: 3:33 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. - With entire trailer parks and farms submerged in the floodwaters, some residents took to canoes and officials warned they would have to wait at least another day for the Russian River to recede below flood stage.

Meanwhile, the heavy rain that swamped Northern California for two days moved to Southern California, prompting flash flood watches and preparations for what could be the Rose Parade's first soggy day in more than 50 years.

At least two deaths were blamed on the storm - two men killed by falling trees, one in Vacaville on Saturday and another in Los Altos Hills on Sunday, authorities said.

Up to 3 inches of rain in parts of Sonoma County on Sunday prolonged flooding along the Russian River near Guerneville. The water crested at 41 feet - about 9 feet above flood stage - and began receding again overnight. But was not expected to drop below flood stage until Tuesday morning, officials said.

The streets in the Marin County town of San Anselmo were coated with mud as residents began drying out their flooded homes and business owners sifted through mounds of damaged goods in the rain.

"We got hit very hard. It's all pretty soggy and muddy up here," town administrator Debbie Stutsman said.

A creek poured over its banks Saturday, flooding about 50 downtown businesses under about 4 feet of water, Stutsman said. Two people rescued from the rising water there were hospitalized with hypothermia.

Initial assessments put the property damage at about $10 million.

Water levels dropped Sunday in the Napa River near the heart of wine country, where the river reached 5 feet above flood stage and sent a surge of water into a several-block area of downtown.

About 1,000 homes and an unknown number of businesses were flooded, Napa officials estimated. A layer of mud and debris coated city streets but most flooded roads had been reopened.

Saturday's storm had dumped an average of 4 to 5 inches in Northern California, with parts of Napa County getting up to 9 inches in less than 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

The Russian River had crested near Guerneville at 42 feet, sending water gushing into portions of the city and flooding hundreds of homes, said county spokesman Dan Levin.

The California Army National Guard sent all-terrain vehicles through the town Sunday to pick up residents stranded in their houses by floodwaters.

Dan Aljoe, 59, who came up from Alameda with some friends to ring in the New Year, said he called for help after waking up that morning to see water lapping against the house.

"We were worried that we wouldn't be able to get out," Aljoe said, as he tossed in a garbage bag full of belongings. "These guys were marvelous to pick us up."

Strong winds and heavy rain threatened several levees across the state over the weekend. Water splashed over the top of one levee in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, forcing officials to evacuate up to 100 residents from Twitchell Island.

In Solano County, a mandatory evacuation also was ordered for about 15 homes in Collinsville after a levee along the Sacramento River began leaking. High winds had thrashed water over the levee walls, which developed cracks under the pressure, said Paula Toynbee, spokeswoman for the Solano County Sheriff's Department.

Crews, held back by poor weather conditions Sunday, planned to begin repairs in the morning, Toynbee said.

About 129,000 customers from Bakersfield to the Oregon border remained without power Sunday night after gusts up to 60 mph knocked down additional lines and transformers.

Meanwhile, Southern California braced for the storm's impact. Up to 4 inches could fall in the coastal valley and 8 inches in the mountains, according to the National Weather Service.

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