Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

6 Dead from Storms 5,000 Are Evacuated in Northern California

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

6 Dead from Storms 5,000 Are Evacuated in Northern California

Article excerpt

The worst rainfall in almost a decade continued its deadly assault across California on Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of 5,000 residents in northern Sacramento County and sending waves of mud into homes in Southern California.

The storm was blamed for at least six deaths in the last two days - five in Northern California and one in southwestern Oregon.

Gov. Pete Wilson declared states of emergency in 18 counties. The weeklong series of Pacific storms has brought the most rainfall to California since 1986, when tens of thousands of people were driven from their homes in widespread flooding.

Some 5,000 residents of Rio Linda, 15 miles north of Sacramento, were ordered evacuated when Dry Creek, a tributary of the American River, spilled over its banks. Hundreds of people were sent to shelters.

Army National Guard Chinook helicopters plucked residents out of hard-hit Guerneville, about 60 miles north of San Francisco, as the Russian River crested at 17 feet above flood stage. Almost 200,000 utility customers were reported to be without power across the state, and repairs were often difficult.

In Southern California, a body was found in the raging Ventura River, but it was unknown whether it was that of a homeless man reported missing.

At least 33 people were pulled from the Ventura and Santa Clara rivers, some by helicopter. Three were hospitalized for hypothermia, authorities said.

Many of those rescued were residents of homeless encampments along the riverbed. They had been warned on Monday to move to higher ground, but few did.

In Santa Barbara, 43 residents of a convalescent home were evacuated to a hospital as runoff waters invaded their home before dawn, said police Sgt. Brian Abbott.

In the Hollywood Hills, a couple were sleeping when a wall of mud and a tree hit their home.

"The tree came right into the bedroom, hit them in the bed," said Bob Grebb, the couple's son. His father, Harry, 71, and mother, Arnella Grebb, 72, were in good condition at a hospital.

The rainfall turned Los Angeles' morning commute into even more of a nightmare, flooding intersections and littering freeways with fender-bender accidents, spinouts and overturned vehicles. …

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