Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

California Awash; Death Toll Up to 8 Residents Cope with Muck, Sinkholes and Predictions of More Bad Weather

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

California Awash; Death Toll Up to 8 Residents Cope with Muck, Sinkholes and Predictions of More Bad Weather

Article excerpt

More than a week of rain left Southern California roads under a foot or more of water Wednesday, opened huge sinkholes in freeways and brought production of some television glamour shows to a halt.

Nine days of storms have been blamed for eight deaths statewide.

The storms have dropped more than a foot of rain in some area and forced the evacuation of thousands of people from the wine country north of San Francisco to the fire-ravaged hillsides of Southern California.

The state Office of Emergency Services reported a preliminary damage estimate of $66 million, but that figure did not include the hard-hit Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties.

Emergency crews and homeowners used a brief respite in the inclement weather to clear muck and debris, fortify sandbag barriers and fill sinkholes.

But more rain was expected late Wednesday and today, and forecasters said a stronger storm was off the coast, poised to strike over the weekend.

"We love this house, and we love this city, but today I've got to tell you, we hate this rain," said Deedee Gene of Altadena, 10 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Gene kept a wary eye on the soaked 150-foot hillside above her back yard, where she and her husband had dug a trench and laid pipe to divert water running toward their yard.

President Bill Clinton, who has declared 24 counties in California disaster areas, was scheduled to visit the state Monday to commemorate the first anniversary of the Los Angeles earthquake of Jan. 17, 1994.

"You are a people who come together in times of crisis," Clinton said in Washington, referring to storm-weary Californians. "The American people are with you."

The weather created havoc in freeway-dependent Southern California as motorists tried to navigate roads with pools of water up to their car doors.

A sewer line collapsed in Industry, 22 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, forming a large sinkhole that swallowed a car.

Neighbors lowered a ladder into the hole, and the driver escaped with minor injuries. …

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