Monday 13 March 2023

California communities brace for more rain amid massive flooding, levee break, rescues, evacuations

 California is bracing for another round of storms as residents deal with blocked exit routes, high floodwaters, a levee break, emergency rescues, and ongoing evacuations, multiple outlets reported.

"My heart hurts tonight for the residents of Pajaro," Monterey County Board of Supervisors Chair Luis Alejo tweeted Saturday.

A levee failure on California's Pajaro River in Monterey County Friday night caused massive flooding necessitating evacuations and "dozens of water rescues," the Los Angeles Times reported.

"We were hoping to avoid and prevent this situation, but the worst case scenario has arrived," Alejo said, also thanking the first responders and county staff assisting with evacuations and relocations to safe shelters.

More than 8,500 people were under evacuation orders and warnings Saturday in Monterey County. Those under the orders and warnings include the unincorporated agricultural community of Pajaro, which is home to many Spanish-speaking farm workers, KPIX reported.

Streets, cars, homes, businesses, and schools were submerged, the outlet also reported.

Sunday afternoon, Alejo warned residents not to drink the tap water nor use it for cooking. Officials are concerned that flood water entering into the well casing may have contaminated tap water with chemicals. Boiling the water, he warned, will not make it safe.

Soldiers in the California National Guard worked to support first responders in 56 rescues near the Panjaro River, the Guard tweeted yesterday. In the video accompanying the tweet, a guardsman assists a driver as the driver exits his vehicle into the thigh-deep waters flooding the road.

Northern California residents will face more bad weather, as forecasters warn that yet another atmospheric river is bearing down on the region. Beleaguered residents should expect more heavy rain and gusty winds that could exacerbate the flooding as early as Monday.

An atmospheric river is a long, narrow region in the atmosphere that transports water vapor, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains. The vapor columns, like "rivers in the sky," move with the weather. Those with the largest amounts of water vapor and strongest winds can create extreme rainfall and floods, NOAA also explains.

California's Governor's Office of Emergency Services tweeted Sunday that flood fighting personnel are being pre-positioned across the state as they prepare for the predicted onslaught. Cal OES urged the public to have emergency plan in place, emergency preparedness kits at home, and vehicles fueled in case evacuation becomes necessary.

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