California was bracing for another round of rain beginning Monday as officials tried to assess the damage from severe flooding along the Central Coast and Central Valley, which left scores stranded and left whole blocks under water.
Yet another atmospheric river will bring new flood concerns to Northern California beginning Monday and continuing through Tuesday night.
Southern California will see rain Tuesday and Wednesday, with flooding possible in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, according to the National Weather Service.
“This next atmospheric river event is not looking like it’s going to be as strong, but when you have a flood on top of a flood, it just makes a bigger flood,” said Cindy Kobold, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “That means this next one could be more impactful, because the ground is way overly saturated, and we’re going to have additional rainfall, with gusty winds.”
The biggest impact from the recent storm was in the small town of Pajaro in Monterey County.
A levee failure on the Pajaro River – three miles upstream from the town of Pajaro – triggered massive flooding in and around the town and prompted hundreds of evacuations.
The levee breached late Friday night, said Nicholas Pasculli, a Monterey County spokesperson. Patrols noticed “bubbling up in the adjacent farmland” at 11 p.m., the first sign of trouble.
Thirty minutes later, the levee failed, Pasculli said. As of Saturday morning, he said, “the failure is approximately 100 feet wide.” Pajaro — with a population of 1,700, mostly farmworkers — is underwater.
Andres Garcia, 39, said this was his third evacuation from Pajaro because of the flooding river; in addition to January, there was one in 1995, when the town was flooded “even worse” than it is now.
He and his wife and 8-year-old daughter left the city early Saturday, after they got a knock on the door from a sheriff’s deputy who urged them to evacuate. Garcia said they left before the water got too high, and he had no idea about the condition of his house.
His neighbor Laura Garcia left after dawn. She showed a video of water sloshing through her house — lapping against a crib, dining room set and shelves.
Andres Garcia said many farmworkers will be out of a job for as long as the water stays high and fields are submerged.
“They can’t do anything while it’s like this,” he said.
Elsewhere in Monterey County, the Salinas River flooded around the community of San Ardo, prompting evacuation orders Friday night.
Major flooding was reported in Tulare County’s Springville area — where officials conducted dozens of water rescues Friday morning — and in Kernville, where the roaring Kern River surrounded houses and mobile homes, spurring evacuations.
Valeriana López, a 55-year-old resident of Tooleville in Tulare County, said the floodwater didn’t come inside her home but turned her yard into soft mud. She set down boards to get across the yard and was searching for sandbags to create a walkway.
Sheriff’s deputies went door to door Friday night urging residents to be ready to leave, López said. But she chose to stay.
“I’m going to trust in God, because we can’t do anything,” she said. “We don’t have anywhere to go.”
Ian James contributed to this report.
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