California Storm River: 15 million people could face flooding as more storms develop

(CNN) Another round of storms is heading toward flood-ravaged California, where residents are still struggling with impassable roads, overflowing rivers, flooded neighborhoods and levees that have forced the evacuation of hundreds.

Sunday Afternoon, Portions California’s famous Highway 1 What already looked like puddles — prompted officials to close a section of the scenic road in Monterey County.

“#Hwy1 is fully closed from Salinas Road to Highway 129 in #Watsonville due to flooding,” Caltrans District 5, part of the state’s Department of Transportation, tweeted.

A new atmospheric river is expected to hit the state on Monday, threatening heavy rain in Central and Northern California and as another atmospheric river winds up, National Weather Service said.

Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow streams of moisture that can transport saturated air thousands of miles. Like a fire hose.

About 15 million people are under a flood watch in California and Nevada.

“This event could bring more than 6 inches of rain to parts of central and northern California,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said Sunday.

Starting Monday night, “the rain will affect the most sensitive areas of Central California that were hit hard by the downpours Friday and early Saturday.” Meteorological Center said. As a result, “it doesn’t take long for flood damage to resume once sustained heavy rains begin.”

And flooding could create a dire situation in some neighborhoods, where walls of rain in recent days have turned streets into rivers and damaged roads, prompting stranded people to recover. At least two people have died As a result of the storms, officials said.

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Among the hardest-hit areas was Monterey County, where the swollen Bajaro River broke its banks around midnight Friday. Water flowed out of control in nearby Bajaro, forcing residents to evacuate — a “worst situation” for the community, said Luis Alejo, chairman of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.

Some were unable to get out before floodwaters arrived, and crews were doing high-water rescues Saturday, Cal Fire Capt. Curtis Rhodes told CNN.

‘At least those who can bear this kind of hardship’

Many Pajaro residents are farm workers, who not only lose their property but also cannot make a living for some time if continuous flooding affects agriculture, Alejo said.

“These are the people who can least endure this kind of hardship,” he said.

As residents crowd into emergency shelters, efforts to prevent flooding from breaking through are complicated by an approaching second wave river.

“This weekend is a short respite,” said David King with the National Weather Service. “The weather is expected to change Monday night.”

‘We are now an island’

Cars and homes were flooded in Pajaro, California on Saturday.

While eyes were on the Bajaro River, the Salinas River to the south was also overflowing — prompting more evacuation orders in Monterey County. Rising river waters have already flooded homes and businesses around the San Orto community.

Emergency crews have rescued more than 90 people in Monterey County, Sheriff Tina Nieto said. “We even rescued a man who was floating in a section of a tube and put his pet on top of him,” he said.

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To the north, heavy rains pounded Santa Cruz County on Friday, leaving about 700 residents in Soquel stranded after a broken pipe caused severe flooding and the collapse of a road connecting the community to other areas, Steve Wiesner said. District Public Works Assistant Director.

Residents will be quarantined until a new crossing is built — which could take days, Wiesner said.

“We’re an island now,” resident Molly Watson told CNN.

Another hard hit area was Tulare County Evacuation orders were extended The county sheriff’s office announced Friday night that the floodwaters will include the Daviston community and parts of Cutler and Exeter as the river rises. Officials urged residents to stay away from bodies of water and avoid unnecessary travel.

In Tulare County, video from Springville showed devastating damage after severe flooding Friday.

“It’s very heartbreaking,” Hattie Shepherd told CNN. “Many of the hard workers have lost their homes and possessions and have been displaced.”

Both sides of Highway 99 were closed Saturday in the Earlimard area of ​​Tulare County.

The latest Atmospheric rivers The latest to trick the state after an attack Similar storms also caused deadly floods in December and January.

But this new wave of storms is hitting areas already buried by heavy snowfall over the past two weeks. Melting snow Forecasters said that flooding will play a role in the coming days.

President Joe Biden has approved the emergency declaration requested by Governor Gavin Newsom. The move frees up funding for millions of residents affected by severe weather since the start of the year.

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Meanwhile, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo Expanded the state of emergency To include more counties due to flooding associated with the same storm.

“As this severe weather continues to affect more residents across Northern Nevada, I again urge all Nevadans to stay safe, travel with caution, and follow all local guidelines,” Lombardo said in a statement. “State and federal partners will continue to monitor local damage and act quickly to assess necessary repairs across Northern Nevada.”

CNN’s Michelle Watson, Mike Valerio, Aya Elamroussi, Andy Rose, Sharif Paget, Melissa Alonso and Jillian Sykes contributed to this report.

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