Forecasters with the National Weather Service offered a stark warning Sunday for just about everyone living in the soggy, soaked Central Valley.
“Pretty much anybody needs to be prepared for the possibility that they may have to evacuate quickly,” said Sacramento meteorologist Brooke Bingaman.
Though most of the valley avoided further flooding Saturday night, the worst may be yet to come Monday and Tuesday, Bingaman said.
On Sunday, the weather service issued a flood warning in urban areas and along small streams through Thursday for the counties that make up the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys, as well as for most of the counties that sit along the valleys’ rim.
“We may see flooding in locations which haven’t been impacted in many years,” the alert reads.
In other words, those living anywhere near a river, a slough, a levee, a creek or a canal need to be ready to flee flood waters at a moment’s notice.
Case in point: Maxwell, a rice-farming town of 1,100 people an hour north of Sacramento. It suddenly flooded early Saturday morning as storm runoff overwhelmed a local creek, filling a neighborhood and small business district with more than a foot of water.
Bingaman said the same scenario in Maxwell could happen in just about any low-lying area.
“We have been hit hard with storm after storm after storm since early January, so our soils are very saturated and it’s getting to the point where there’s no place for the water to go,” she said.
In Maxwell, the floodwaters were receding Sunday morning and only one person was still at a Red Cross shelter in nearby Williams, said Jim Saso, assistant sheriff at the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office. But with the next storm approaching, he urged residents to be ready to get out again.
“If they were affected (by the floodwaters) before, they’ll probably be affected again,” Saso said.
In Maxwell Sunday, residents hurriedly stacked sandbags made from rice sacks around their houses as they prepared for that eventuality.
“It’s going to be worse than the last one,” said Richard Airozo, 77.
Firefighters awoke him about 4 a.m. Saturday with a knock on the door, as water was already seeping into his garage.
By noon on Sunday, he had returned to his house and removed soaked carpet from his living room. It was piled in a damp stack next to his driveway. Inside the house, a portable heater and fan was drying the room.
Kim Troughton, 52, spent Saturday and Sunday cooking meals for firefighters and police in Maxwell’s fire hall.
She said she wasn’t sure it made sense to start cleaning out her restaurant, Kim’s Country Cafe, before the next storm hit.
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