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Newsom Declares State Of Emergency Due To Storms

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Sacramento, CA – As a third “atmospheric river” begins to barrel across California, Governor Gavin Newsom today declared a state of emergency throughout the state due to the recent and approaching winter storms.

As earlier reported here, a Flood Watch issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect for the Mother Lode through Friday morning. The New Year’s Eve storm brought major flooding to the region and especially to Calaveras County, where the downpour led to the evacuation of a Valley Springs mobile home park and the rescue of several motorists from flooded roadways. The county also activated its Level 2 Emergency Operation Center on Saturday.

“California is mobilizing to keep people safe from the impacts of the incoming storm,” said Governor Newsom. “This state of emergency will allow the state to respond quickly as the storm develops and support local officials in their ongoing response.”

With flooding impacting the entire state, the governor met with state agency leaders, including CAL OES, the Department of Water Resources, Social Services, Caltrans, and CHP, this morning before signing the declaration. The governor’s office detailed how it will help, stating, “The emergency proclamation supports emergency relief efforts, including authorizing the mobilization of the California National Guard to support disaster response, directing Caltrans to request immediate assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program to support highway repairs, and other support for local response and recovery efforts.”

Caltrans Director Tony Tavares warned the public to stay off the roadways if they do not need to travel. He noted that his office has activated its twelve emergency operations centers throughout the state. He added, “We have over 4,000 crews deployed and are working 12-hour shifts around the clock to address anything that may impact the traveling public. We’re placing our equipment and many resources in critical locations so that we can react and recover quickly. We’re also monitoring various bridges throughout the state for the water levels and the flows.”

Nancy Ward, the new director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, took the reins just this Monday, as detailed here. She anticipates this may be one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to touch down in California in the last five years. The heavy rain, combined with a three-year drought that is now in its fourth year, has stressed trees. This, combined with the ground becoming suddenly saturated and strong winds, increases the likelihood of trees falling and causing widespread power outages or flood hazards.

“We are in the middle of a flood emergency and also in the middle of a drought emergency,” Ward stated during an emergency briefing.

Ward gave these steps to take to be safe: “Stay informed. Sign up for emergency alerts from your county, have a family emergency plan, and know evacuation routes. Check on family members and neighbors, and always follow the direction of local authorities.” She added, “If you are told to evacuate, please do so immediately. We’ll get through these storms.”

Of note, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the storms in California still are not enough to officially end the drought, as most of the state is in severe to extreme drought.