- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Homeowners shoveled away mud and other debris and authorities worked to repair levees yesterday after a pair of storms flooded Northern California’s wine country.

The rain let up over the hard-hit region and moved into central and Southern California, drenching the Rose Parade for the first time since 1955 and threatening mudslides on hills stripped bare by last summer’s wildfires.

Initial estimates put the damage throughout Northern California at more than $100 million. The storms were blamed for two deaths, both of them victims of falling trees.

The Russian River at Guerneville began receding after cresting at 41 feet — 9 feet above flood stage — but officials said it would probably not return to its banks until this morning.

“When it goes down below its banks, that’s when the real cleanup begins,” Sonoma County spokesman Dan Levin said.

Hundreds of homes were flooded in the scenic community, he said. Live power lines were down throughout the area, and residents were warned to stay away.

The Marin County town of San Anselmo, north of San Francisco, sustained an estimated $40 million in damage when a creek put downtown under 4 feet of water and left a coating of mud on streets. An estimated 50 businesses were damaged.

About two miles west, in Fairfax, three homes were nearly wiped out by mudslides.

Water also receded in the heart of wine country along the Napa River, which rose out of its banks at the town of Napa and inundated several downtown blocks. Napa officials said some 600 homes and 150 businesses were flooded. Damage was estimated at $50 million.

There were no immediate reports of damage to wineries. Grape vines are largely dormant at this time of year.

High water and wind-whipped waves threatened several levees, including at least two in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where water washing over the top of a levee at Collinsville forced an estimated 40 people from about 15 homes, Don Strickland of the Department of Water Resources said. In Novato, crews worked to repair a levee breach that flooded about a dozen homes.

The Rose Parade stepped off on schedule, but a clear poncho covered the white gown of Rose Queen Camille Clark and wind bent spectators’ umbrellas and snapped rain slickers.

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