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California cleans up after deluge, more feared

A resident checks inside a vehicle stuck in the mud during clean up after flooding December 23, 2010 in Highland, California. Residents throughout southern California were hit hard by storms this week, with one of the hardest hit being Highland with several homes flooded. Photo courtesy AFP.

Hundreds killed in Colombia flooding
Bogota (AFP) Dec 21, 2010 - The unusually heavy rain that has pounded Colombia this year killed 284 people in related accidents, officials said Tuesday, as navy sailors helped evacuate people from a flooded town. Colombia has suffered the heaviest rain in decades due to the La Nina weather phenomenon, which causes water temperature in the Pacific Ocean to drop. Strong winds and heavy rain struck a large swath of the Americas. More than two million people have been affected by flooding, overflowing rivers and landslides this year, the Interior Ministry said. Another 62 people have also been reported missing. North, north-eastern and western Colombia have been hardest-hit, officials said.

On Tuesday, sailors finished evacuating some 2,000 people from the town of Soplaviento, in the northern Colombian department of Bolivar. In recent weeks, overflowing rivers forced entire towns to empty, as in the case of the eastern town of Gramalote, in the North Santander department. Residents were forced to flee when the rain produced sinkholes large enough to swallow up whole buildings. The British charity Oxfam said it is increasing its aid to Colombia, and is calling for increased donations. "These are the worst floods to hit Colombia in 60 years. They are destroying thousands of homes and crops, roads and public buildings in areas of the country that were already desperately poor," said Guillermo Toro, the Oxfam program manager in Colombia. "There is an urgent need for clean drinking water and toilets to avert a public health catastrophe, as well as basic food items and temporary shelter for those who have lost their homes."
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (AFP) Dec 23, 2010
California began clearing up Thursday after days of torrential storms and flash floods, although more rain was forecast here and in neighboring western US states.

Blue skies returned to the Golden state after nearly a week of severe weather which forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 people from their homes.

The five-day storm dumped 7.96 inches of rain on Los Angeles -- more than half the record rainfall for a whole year of 15 inches -- in the worst deluge to hit southern California since the winter of 2004-2005.

Thursday and Friday were forecast to be relatively clear in Los Angeles, but more rain is expected from Saturday -- Christmas Day --- according to Andrew Rorke of the National Weather Service.

As the storm moved east, the weather forecasting service maintained flood warnings for southern California, and issued flood and avalanche warnings for parts of neighboring Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

The week's storms left residential mountainous areas under mud while authorities scrambled to save lives at risk. Some public transportation and even funeral services were suspended due to flooding fears.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in half a dozen southern California counties because of the storms.

Around 400 people and 20 stores were evacuated in coastal San Juan Capistrano after a hillside collapsed, while in farm-rich central California 2,000 people were ordered out of their homes in Kern county.

Los Angeles saw days of record rainfall, while storms sparked power outages across Southern California, mud and rock slides in the area's scenic foothills, and even forced the closure of parts of the famed Pacific Coast Highway.

The one bright spot was had by the region's winter resorts, where record amounts of snow created a skiers' paradise just in time for the Christmas holiday season.

earlier related report
Waterlogged California hit by more furious weather
Los Angeles (AFP) Dec 22, 2010 - Californian resorts and cities evacuated hundreds of people Wednesday as a new storm brought more misery after days of flooding, thunderstorms and tidal surges.

The latest violent storm to hit the region left residential mountainous areas under mud while authorities scrambled to save lives at risk. Some public transportation and even funeral services were suspended due to flooding fears.

Around 400 people and 20 stores were evacuated in coastal San Juan Capistrano, between Los Angeles and San Diego, after a hillside collapsed nears a dozen houses.

The storm inundated the local airport, closing down its cemetery and cutting power to one of the metro lines serving eastern Los Angeles. It also closed down San Diego's SeaWorld park.

Rising flood waters also were causing headaches throughout southern California. Local television news stations broadcast numerous reports of stranded motorist who had to be plucked from their cars after becoming trapped by raging flash floods.

Officials warned residents, particularly those near local creeks and waterways, to take the risk in earnest.

"This is not a playground. This is no time to do extreme sports," said Jack Wise of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

"Even six inches (15 centimeters) of water in the flood control channels is enough to wash you down the river... There's nobody to hear you scream."

Officials in Los Angeles County ordered the evacuations of hundreds of homes in the shadow of the denuded San Gabriel Mountains, which recent fires have made bereft of vegetation and where there was a high risk of flooding and landslides.

"If you fail to comply, it could result in death," Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich warned.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in half a dozen southern California counties because of the storms.

Forecasters predicted the rain would be accompanied by winds between 15 to 25 miles (24 to 40 kilometers) per hour and gusts of up to 65 miles (105 kilometers) per hour.

Heavy snows, rain, winds and cooler-than-usual temperatures have buffeted the western United States throughout the weekend, hitting Oregon and California especially hard.

In farm-rich central California, floods earlier this week forced 2,000 people from their homes in Kern county, the local fire department reported in a statement.

Downtown Los Angeles has seen days of record rainfall, with cascades of water causing power outages across Southern California, mudslides and rock slides in the area's scenic foothills, and closure of parts of the famed Pacific Coast Highway.

The one bright spot was had by the region's winter resorts, where record amounts of snow created a skiers' paradise just in time for the Christmas holiday season.




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SHAKE AND BLOW
Waterlogged California hit by more furious weather
Los Angeles (AFP) Dec 22, 2010
Californian resorts and cities evacuated hundreds of people Wednesday as a new storm brought more misery after days of flooding, thunderstorms and tidal surges. The latest violent storm to hit the region left residential mountainous areas under mud while authorities scrambled to save lives at risk. Some public transportation and even funeral services were suspended due to flooding fears. ... read more

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