Biden declares weather emergency for California
U.S. President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in the state of California because of the ongoing winter storms. He ordered federal aid late Saturday night for recovery and repair work in the affected regions.
The latest storm in a series swept through already hard-hit California on Saturday with heavy rains causing flooding. Fields and roads were under water in many places, and power lines were damaged.
Around 00:30 on Sunday night (CET), some 20,000 households had no power, according to the website poweroutage.us. "We're not done yet," warned the state's governor, Gavin Newsom, on Saturday after visiting those affected. He urged people to remain "vigilant."
Nearly 26 million Californians remained under flood warnings Saturday evening, according to the U.S. Weather Service (NWS). Tens of thousands of people were called to evacuate their homes.
"Catastrophic flooding" was forecast for an area along the Salinas River, a major agricultural region south of the San Francisco metropolitan bay area. The river overflowed its banks in many places, flooding fields, according to a journalist with the AFP news agency.
In the mountains, the precipitation led to heavy snowfall. The authorities warned of avalanche danger.
Suffering the consequences of a decades-long drought, California has been suffering for weeks from winter storms with precipitation and snow as heavy as some areas have not seen in 150 years. In some regions, 50 percent of the average rainfall for an entire year has been recorded in just a few days.
At least 19 people have died in flooding, power outages, mudslides and sinkholes since Dec. 26, the U.S. government said. On Saturday, a new weather front with heavy rain, snow and gusts had hit the coast.
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