In California, When it Rains, it Pours

Flooded California Hit by Second Storm Severe Storm in Two Days By JUSTIN M. NORTON, Associated Press Writer

The second major storm in two days washed across Northern California on Sunday, prolonging the threat of flooding as residents tried to clean up thick layers of mud and debris left behind as the first wave of floodwater receded.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated on Saturday as heavy rain sent the Napa and Russian rivers spilling over their banks.

In many areas, the rivers and creeks were back within banks, though some towns remained flooded or flooded again as the rain, heavy at times, came and went throughout the day Sunday. The Sonoma County town of Guerneville was among those still fighting floodwater amid pouring rain. Many telephone lines were out in the area.

At least 2 more inches of rain was forecast across Northern California on Sunday, on top of the 4 to 9 inches that had already swamped the region, the National Weather Service said.

Wildfire-damaged areas of Southern California were also under a flash flood watch and a threat of mudslides as heavy rain headed in their direction. In Pasadena, the Rose Parade's floral floats were being prepared for what could be the first rainy Rose Parade in half a century.

Massive mudslides kept road crews busy moving rock and debris that shut down Interstate 80 through the Sierra Nevada and other roads across the region.

In Guerneville, where the Russian River crested 10 feet above flood stage early Sunday, the downtown was largely spared but low-lying areas and an unknown number of homes flooded, said Linda Eubanks of Sonoma County's Office of Emergency Services.

Officials were urging residents who had left to stay out for another day, and those who hadn't to evacuate. About 50 people were in emergency shelters, Eubanks said.

In spite of the flooding, Maureen Weinstein hosted a festive New Year's Eve party outside her Guerneville home -- muddy river water lapping just 10 feet away.

"We live through (floods) a lot," Weinstein said. "We're not that concerned this time because this year we have power and the Internet. I can monitor the water. It's wonderful." But not everyone had phones. Dialtone was delayed or non-existent in many areas.

In San Anselmo, about 20 miles north of San Francisco, streets were coated with mud and business owners sorted through mounds of damaged goods Sunday, a day after floodwater 4 feet deep spread through downtown.

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

Stutsman said initial assessments put the damage in town at about $10 million.

Mud and debris also covered the streets of downtown Napa, where officials estimated about 1,000 homes and an unknown number of businesses had flooded, as well as thousands of acres of rural land in the county. The river had crested 5 feet above flood stage in Napa on Saturday and was continuing to drop Sunday.

The storm moved into the Rocky Mountains on Sunday as a blizzard, making rescue efforts challenging after an avalanche near Rocky Mountain National Park that killed two snowmobilers.

At least one death in California was blamed on the storm, a man killed by a falling tree in Vacaville, authorities said.

The weather service was urging residents to stay alert all day Sunday, in the event further evacuations were needed.

Associated Press writers Paul Elias in Napa; Dan Goodin in Guerneville; Martin Griffith in Reno, Nev.; Julia Silverman in Portland, Ore.; and Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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