Vehicles pass each other on a flooded street Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, in Chico, Calif. Flash flooding hit a wildfire-scarred area of Northern California on Thursday, forcing officials to deploy swift water rescue teams to save people stuck in vehicles and rescue them from homes after a downpour near the Paradise area. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California floods recede after storms in wildfire burn areas

Thursday’s storm brought 3.8 centimetres of rain in an hour

After fleeing a wildfire that came dangerously close to his Northern California home earlier this month, Dale Word evacuated again when flash floods inundated roads and trapped motorists and residents.

Swift water teams used boats to make rescues at three homes and officials told people in about 100 vehicles to stay in place. The rain receded late Thursday afternoon, leaving a mess of sticky mud and debris. Downed trees and power poles littered the landscape.

Word, a firmware engineer, waded through thigh-high water to higher ground in his semi-rural Chico neighbourhood — stunned by the disasters that have hit Butte County. The recent fire came within several hundred feet of his home, which is about 140 miles (225 kilometres) northeast of San Francisco.

“Everywhere you go you’re talking to people who have lost everything and it’s just tragic,” Word said. He jokingly added, “It feels like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are going to come riding over the hill any day now.”

RELATED: Northern California wildfire nearly quadruples in size

Thursday’s storm brought 1 1/2 inches (3.8 centimetres) of rain in an hour, said the National Weather Service.

The sheriff’s department ordered evacuations but could not say how many people were affected. The water rescues were in Chico, where many of the fire evacuees from Paradise are staying.

Paradise has been under mandatory evacuation orders for nearly three weeks since the firestorm killed at least 88 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes.

Residents could begin returning early next week, but only if the wet weather doesn’t hinder efforts to clear roads and restore power, Sheriff Kory Honea said Wednesday.

In Southern California, authorities ordered evacuations in a small Malibu community within a wildfire burn zone where a mudslide blocked streets amid the heavy rains. No major damage was reported by the time flood warnings and watches expired.

The storm knocked out power and flooded roadways across greater Los Angeles. Numerous traffic accidents occurred on slick freeways and most vehicles travelling in the mountains were ordered to put chains on their tires. Mud and rock slides also closed two mountain highways.

Residents were urged to voluntarily evacuate a string of neighbourhoods about 45 miles (70 kilometres) southeast of Los Angeles along a flank of the Santa Ana Mountains where a fire burned thousands of acres last summer. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of the city of Lake Elsinore beneath charred hillsides where there were heavy debris flows but no significant damage.

West of Los Angeles, no major problems were reported after rain fell heavily at times in vast areas burned by fires this month and last December — an area where there are strong memories of a January downpour that unleashed devastating debris flows through the community of Montecito that killed 21 people and left two missing.

RELATED: Northern California wildfire is deadliest in state history

On the coast near Big Sur, the California Department of Transportation closed a 12-mile (19-kilometre) stretch of Highway 1 because of potential instability.

The weather service also issued a backcountry avalanche warning for most of the central Sierra, including the Lake Tahoe area.

Olga R. Rodriguez, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers and COVID-19 contact tracers must stop, Chilliwack soccer club says

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

The smaller eagle on the left side of the picture has been stolen from the Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation. If found, contact the community office at 604-796-6129 or email info@skwahlook.com. (Contributed Photo/Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation)
Eagle carving stolen from Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation

If seen, contact the First Nation community office at 604-796-9129

The Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation held its inaugural Grand Gala in November 2019 at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This year’s event will be held online. (Submitted photo)
Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation holds virtual Grand Gala

Second annual event takes place online on Nov. 20, raising funds for local hospitals

Chilliwack has several railway crossings that can be hazardous to inattentive and unprepared drivers during the fall and winter months. (Martin Duperre photo)
CN Rail urges Fraser Valley drivers to be careful around railway crossings

The danger level jumps up during icy, windy fall and winter months causing a spike in accidents

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Langley resident Shaun Nugent, who died in 2019 shortly after he saved a swimmer from drowning, has been awarded a posthumous medal for bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (Courtesy Nugent family)
Langley man who died after saving swimmer receives posthumous medal for bravery

Shaun Nugent rescued woman from Hayward Lake near Mission in July of 2019

Most Read