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Heavy rains, flooding prompt evacuations in California

California Storms
Posted at 2:26 PM, Jan 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-09 16:06:45-05

Heavy rain prompted an evacuation order for everyone in Montecito, California on Monday.

Santa Barbara County issued an alert around 12:30 p.m. for everyone in Montecito, Toro Canyon, Sycamore Canyon, and Padaro Lane to "leave now."

Evacuation orders were also issued in coastal, woodsy Santa Cruz County for about 32,000 residents living near rain-swollen rivers and creeks, said Melodye Serino, the deputy county administrative officer. The San Lorenzo River was declared at flood stage, and video on social media showed a neighborhood flooded with muddy water surging up to a stop sign.

A large, muddy slide blocked both lanes of southbound Highway 17, a key but windy route into Santa Cruz from the San Francisco Bay Area. Vehicles were turned back at the summit as crews arrived to clean up.

Despite the deadly nature of storms, which have killed at least a dozen people, residents of tiny, flooded Felton remained calm and upbeat.

Christine Patracuola, the owner of Rocky’s Cafe for 25 years, handed out free coffee to customers whose homes lacked power Monday. Her staff couldn't come in because of closed roads, including a bridge over the San Lorenzo.

“A little coffee can’t hurt anybody," she said. “You can’t really change Mother Nature; you just have to roll with the punches and hope you don’t get swept up into it.”

Nicole Martin, third-generation owner of the Fern River Resort in Felton, said Monday that her clients sipped coffee, sat on cabin porches amid towering redwood trees, and were “enjoying the show” as picnic tables and other debris floated down the swollen San Lorenzo.

The river is usually about 60 feet (18 meters) below the cabins, Martin said, but it crept up to 12 feet (4 meters) from the cabins. Still, Martin said she wasn’t worried – her family has owned the property for about 60 years, and her grandfather checked out conditions Monday and shrugged it off.

The resort prepared by getting about 8,000 pounds of sandbags, readying generators, and handing out lanterns to guests who opted the weather the storm in their cabins.

In Northern California, several districts closed schools. More than 35,000 customers remained without power in Sacramento, down from more than 350,000 a day earlier after gusts of 60 mph (97 kph) knocked majestic trees into power lines, according to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

The National Weather Service warned of a “relentless parade of atmospheric rivers” — long plumes of moisture stretching out into the Pacific that can drop staggering amounts of rain and snow. The precipitation expected over the next couple of days comes after storms last week knocked out power to thousands, flooded streets, and battered the coastline.

President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration Monday to support storm response and relief efforts in more than a dozen counties including Sacramento, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said 12 people died as a result of violent weather during the past 10 days, and he warned that this week’s storms could be even more dangerous and urged people to stay home.