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Cleanup, damage assessment in wake of West’s big storm

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Residents of Sycamore Court flooded by Armstrong Creek paddle out of high water from their apartment in Guerneville, Calif., on Thursday.

SAUSALITO, Calif. >> California turned to cleanup and damage assessment Friday as a powerful storm that drenched the state brought flood dangers to Arizona, and other parts of the West dealt with impacts from a blitz of winter weather.

Firefighters rescued a motorist who called 911 to report his car was being swept down a wash in Tucson, Arizona, by runoff from the storm, which passed through overnight.

Residents were being aided after homes along a creek 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Flagstaff, received up to several feet of water, said Yavapai County Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn.

Road crews in parts of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming worked to clear avalanches that had closed mountain highways and to mitigate potential avalanche threats.

In California, rainwater drained from saturated landscapes even as a new system moved into northern areas of the state and more heavy snow fell in the Sierra Nevada.

Warnings were issued for Guerneville north of San Francisco as the Russian River surpassed flood stage, and the Bay Area commute was snarled after a levee breach partially flooded a highway.

Work continued to restore a neighborhood hit by a destructive mudslide in Sausalito, a San Francisco Bay city north of the Golden Gate. The slide before dawn Thursday carried a duplex down a hillside, destroyed another house and damaged others. A woman was rescued but no one was killed.

In California’s mountains, driving was hampered by snowy conditions and washouts.

About 70 miles (110 kilometers) of Interstate 80 were closed from Colfax, California, to the Nevada state line and chains were required for travel in many other parts of the towering range.

Forecasters said today the storm could dump between 3 and 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) of fresh snow in a region where some ski resorts reported getting 3 feet (1 meter) of snow since Thursday morning.

Kevin Cooper, marketing director for Lake Tahoe TV, said it has snowed so much in recent weeks that cities are running out of places to put the snow. Officials urged people to avoid traveling and issued an avalanche warning.

To the east, public schools closed in the Reno, Nevada, area. The Washoe County School District said today was deemed a “digital school day” during which students stay home and do assignments provided by teachers. The University of Nevada, Reno, canceled early classes.

Similarly, dangerous travel conditions, as well as power outages, flooding and road closures were cited in a decision to cancel classes in seven school districts in San Diego County.

In the inland region east of Los Angeles, damage assessments were expected today after rock falls, mud flows and flooding hit state roads. The damage included a collapse of about 75 feet (23 meters) of pavement in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Authorities warned that landslides remained a possibility despite the end of heavy rain.

The storm swept in from the Pacific Ocean early in the week and lasted through Thursday, hitting Northern California and southern Oregon before moving into Southern California.

There were at least two deaths. One was a woman pulled from rising water in a flood-control channel in Corona, southeast of Los Angeles. She had a heart attack and died at a hospital. The other death was an unidentified man whose body was recovered from a fast-flowing creek in Escondido, northeast of San Diego.

The storm’s intensity was due to a weather phenomenon known as an atmospheric river — a long, narrow plume of moisture that stretched over the Pacific to near Hawaii — known colloquially as a “Pineapple Express.”

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