By JUSTIN M. NORTON, Associated Press Writer
Most rivers and streams throughout California had receded back below
flood stage Tuesday following a pair of severe storms, allowing
residents and officials to clean up and assess the damage.
As soon as the Russian River receded in Guerneville, Dave Roberts
began hosing the mud off his bar and sweeping water out the doors.
His Wild Jane's Bar and Restaurant was drenched in 2 1/2 feet of water
when the storms swamped Northern California's wine country during the
weekend, but he took the flooding in stride.
"We're used to this," Roberts said Monday. The 20-year resident of
this town along the Russian River had survived worse flooding
before. "After all, it's just mud and water, easily cleaned."
While Northern California recovered from the severe weather, heavy
rain followed by snow had turned to ice on highways across northern
Nevada, creating hazardous driving conditions and dozens of accidents
Tuesday morning. No major accidents or injuries were reported, but
traffic going both directions was severely backed up for several miles.
"It's a skating rink out there," Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Eddie
The weekend storms had dumped up to 8 inches of rain in places,
swelling streams and washing mud down hills and onto homes and
highways. Levees were breached or weakened, forcing evacuations of
dozens of residents. At least three deaths were blamed on the storm --
all from falling trees.
On Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in
Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Napa, Sacramento, Sonoma and Trinity
counties. Initial estimates put the damage in two towns alone at more
than $100 million.
As the second storm moved south Monday, soaking the Rose Parade for
the first time in 50 years but causing little damage to the Los
Angeles area, officials up north shifted into cleanup mode.
"We're continuing to work our way toward the light at the end of that
tunnel," said Rob Hartman of the National Weather Service's
California-Nevada River Forecast Center in Sacramento.
In Napa, where the river had inundated most of the downtown area,
Schwarzenegger toured the flood-damaged areas Monday afternoon. A
layer of mud and debris still coated city streets, but most flooded
roads had been reopened.
Initial damage estimates there approached $75 million, with about
1,200 homes, 250 businesses and 150 vehicles damaged, Napa spokesman
Peter Dreier said Monday.
The storm also flooded thousands of acres of wine country land, but
vintners escaped serious damage because grapevines are largely dormant
this time of year.
The Marin County town of San Anselmo, north of San Francisco, suffered
some $40 million in damage when a creek flooded the downtown with 4
feet of water, coating city streets with mud. On Tuesday morning, city
workers were out in force, hosing the mud and water into the sewers.
The Russian River at Guerneville crested early Sunday at 42 feet -- 10
feet above flood stage -- submerging farms and trailer parks. Hundreds
of homes were flooded, and the California Army National Guard used
all-terrain vehicles to pick up people stranded by high water. The
National Guard found several people waiting in their homes patiently
Farther inland, about 40 residents of the rural Solano County town of
Collinsville began returning home Monday after a weakened levee the
day before threatened their homes and forced evacuations, said
sheriff's spokeswoman Paula Toynbee. "Thank goodness the levee did
hold up," she commented, "only a few small leaks were found it, and
repair crews were working on all that Monday afternoon and evening."
In Novato, authorities said crews after working a day and a half,
completed repairs on a 100-foot section of a levee that was breached
Saturday near Highway 101.
Associated Press writer Don Thompson in Sacramento and Michelle Locke in
Napa contributed to this report.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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