February 15, 1998 in Nation/World

More Rain Brings Threat Of Landslides Flood Center Expects 2 Months Of Sodden Weather Conditions

Associated Press
 

Wind-driven rain pelted soggy California on Saturday after a brief break, renewing the threat of landslides along the northern coast and swelling rivers already flowing at the warning stage.

No major letup is in sight.

“We expect to have a two-month continuation of this type of weather, so we’re prepared to hunker down,” said James Bailey, a spokesman for the state flood center.

Ten people have died in the series of storms that began last month. Preliminary damage estimates reached $300 million, but that figure was limited to 22 counties and did not include landslide damage. Since then, emergencies have been declared in a total of 31 counties, making them eligible for government aid.

U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman on Saturday announced a federal emergency grant of $25 million to help workers whose jobs have been lost or disrupted by recent floods. The money could help as many as 2,000 workers, Herman said.

The latest storm system, producing wind gusting to 40 mph and up to 2 inches of rain, hit the coast late Friday and headed inland, dumping a half-foot of snow in the Sierra Nevada by Saturday afternoon.

Thunderstorms and scattered rain were forecast through Sunday and state meteorologist Elizabeth Morse said a new storm was due Monday, hitting the central and southern parts of the state the hardest.

State emergency crews watched two trouble spots: minor leaks reported in levees along the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers, and the sodden hills at Rio Nido north of San Francisco, where landslides already had destroyed a half-dozen homes and forced the evacuation of 140 residents.

Throughout the San Francisco Bay area, residents had to evacuate dozens of hillside homes because of unstable soil. One house in Berkeley was ordered destroyed to prevent it from sliding onto others.

Police in Los Angeles kept watch over a mudslide in the city’s Canoga Park section that had damaged at least five homes and sent a garage tumbling down a hillside early Friday. Five families were evacuated but no injuries were reported.

Sprawling Clear Lake, which had already flooded at least 80 homes 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, was still rising Saturday and expected to reach its highest point in more than a decade by late Monday.

© Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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