- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2006

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (AP) — The second major storm in two days washed across Northern California yesterday, 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 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 yesterday. The Sonoma County town of Guerneville was among those still fighting floodwater amid pouring rain.

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

Wildfire-damaged areas of Southern California also were 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 a half-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 yesterday, 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 were advised to evacuate. About 50 people were in emergency shelters, Miss 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,” she 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.”

In San Anselmo, about 20 miles north of San Francisco, streets were coated with mud and business owners sorted through mounds of damaged goods yesterday, 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.” She said initial assessments put the damage in town at about $10 million.

Mud and debris also covered the streets of downtown Napa, where the river had crested 5 feet above flood stage on Saturday and was continuing to drop yesterday.

The storm moved into the Rocky Mountains yesterday as a blizzard, making rescue efforts challenging after an avalanche near Rocky Mountain National Park 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.

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