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The Times-Standard 12/31/2005 

Hoopa and Klamath residents moved away from the swelling Trinity and Klamath rivers Friday, anticipating flooding that could close roads and threaten homes.

State Route 96 was expected to shut due to flooding, but by afternoon Friday, mudslides had already shut the road between Hoopa and Orleans. U.S. Highway 101 was closed due to a massive mudslide that dumped up to 15 feet of muck on the main route out of Humboldt County. State Route 299 shut down near Douglas City, but was expected to be open again today.

Northern California braced for the fallout from inches of rain that fell Friday, rain that promised to push nearly all major rivers to flood stage and above. The latest of storms this week stalled over the region, dragging it out and bringing heavy surf and higher-than-anticipated tides.

”That's not helping,” said Nancy Dean, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service. “We've just got a lot of rain coming down here.”

Damage estimates are trickling in. Humboldt County roads have been hammered to the tune of $2.3 million, said county risk manager Kim Kerr. Extensive, but untallied damage to roads in Rio Dell should rise well above $500,000, she said.

Humboldt County's Department of Emergency Services wants residents to report damages, Kerr said. With a disaster declaration expected to be ratified Tuesday, it's possible that compensation will be available through the State Natural Disaster Assistance Act and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Eel, the Klamath, the Mad, the Van Duzen and the Trinity rivers were expected to spill their banks. The worst flooding was expected in Hoopa, where the National Weather Service is predicting the river will rise to 47 feet -- 4 feet above the level on New Year's Day 1997 but 10 feet below the massive flood of 1964.

While some Hoopa residents abandoned homes along the river that runs through the Hoopa Valley Reservation, others weren't overly worried Friday.

Willie Colegrove lives next to the river across from the Hoopa High School. By Friday afternoon, he began to see sand bars appear again as the river fell about 5 to 6 feet from Thursday's peak. He said everyone is watching the river, but he wasn't concerned about his home 50 feet above the river.

”It can hold a lot of water yet,” Colegrove said.

The county Department of Emergency Services is working with tribal emergency services. The Red Cross reported no requests for assistance from Hoopa.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was still storing water in Trinity Reservoir, and was only releasing 1,500 cubic feet per second from Lewiston Dam. The lake is not full, so no spike in releases was planned.

”It's storing a heck of a lot more water than it's letting downstream,” said reclamation spokesman Jeff McCracken.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, about 20 people had been evacuated from RVs along the Klamath River, Del Norte County sheriff's officials said. A state of emergency has been declared in Del Norte County. Areas along the Smith River were not expected to flood.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter in Rio Dell, where about 60 trailers were hauled away from the River's Edge RV park. Cots and overnight facilities are available at Monument Middle School. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are being served at Eagle Prairie Elementary School in Rio Dell.

Garberville officials on Friday were asking the county for authority to distribute sand bags to individuals. That town had potable water delivered Thursday after concerns were raised about the safety of its water supply during Eel River flooding.

Bottom land ranchers in Arcata, Loleta and Ferndale were moving cattle to higher ground Friday.

Power outages were reported by the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. at King Salmon, College of the Redwoods and the west side of Humboldt Hill. About 1,020 customers were affected, and PG&E had no cause of the outage or an estimate of when power would be restored.

Humboldt Fire District personnel were planning to go to King Salmon and Fields Landing to show people how to shut off utilities in preparation of extreme high tides expected Saturday and Sunday.

Hatchery Road in Blue Lake was washed out, along with a power pole that has since been replaced.

Hatchery Road resident Kristen Lark said her home is not at a low point and she doesn't expect to be flooded.

”Technically we are in the flood plain,” she said, “but I'm not too concerned.”

Lark said she's more worried that increased traffic on narrow West End Road -- which she has to take through Arcata just to get back to Blue Lake -- will make that road more dangerous than usual.

Around Ferndale, some low-lying areas again braced for flooding from the Eel and from Francis and Williams Creek. But by Friday afternoon, no one had shown up to get sand bags from Nilsen Co.

”It hasn't quite got to that point,” said manager Ryan Nilsen.




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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