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Governor Newsom visits storm-stressed areas of the Central California Coast and Santa Cruz County

By ONME News

SACRAMENTO – As California enters the third week of severe winter storms, Governor Gavin Newsom is urging people to keep their guard up as strong winds and heavy rains continue to threaten communities across the state; during his visit to the storm-impacted areas of Santa Cruz County to survey damage, Newsom got a realistic, sobering update from local and state emergency officials of the ongoing flooding in the area, along with the recovery efforts.

As of Tuesday afternoon, winter storms have claimed the lives of 17 Californians – more lives than wildfires in the past two years combined. Also, over 135,000+ residents are still without power, some since before New Years Day, (people can check the power outage maps for PG&E, San Diego Gas & Electric or Southern California Edison here.)

Across the state, over 20 million people are under flash-flood alert and tornado watches in the Central Valley (uncommon in California.) And still thousands of Californians remain under evacuation orders, with more atmospheric rains to come over the next few days.

Tuesday morning, Merced County announced a mandatory evacuation due to the overflow of Bear Creek. Other mandatory evacuations in Central California include: parts of Santa Barbara County (Montecito, heavily hit) Bass Lake RV Resort

The damages are adding up in the billions: trees have fallen on apartment dwellings, houses and streets; massive flooding has damaged personal and business properties and took lives, and unexpected rock slides have blocked major streets and highways. A rock slide and major flooding closed Highway 168 at the four-lane in Fresno County, en route to Shaver Lake. Point Richomond in northern California is also under a mandatory evacuation order due to rock slides.

Yesterday, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) brought together more than 400 community-based organizations throughout the state in a first-of-its-kind effort to mobilize resources with a special emphasis on delivering help to vulnerable communities – unsheltered individuals, those with disabilities and older Californians.

“Our message to Californians is simple: be hyper-vigilant,” said Governor Newsom. “There are still several days of severe winter weather ahead and we need all Californians to be alert and heed the advice of emergency officials. Thanks to the President signing off on our request for emergency declaration, we are mobilizing all available resources at every level of government to protect lives and limit storm damage. Today marks five years since the deadly Montecito mudslides that claimed 23 lives – as Montecito faces evacuations ..., it’s a solemn reminder of how quickly conditions can change.”

This week, President Biden approved Governor Newsom’s request for a federal emergency declaration, activating the full weight of the federal government to support California’s storm response and recovery efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making federal disaster assistance available to supplement local and state resources, including funding, equipment and personnel.

On Sunday, the Governor announced $202 million in new investments for long-term flood prevention proposed in the upcoming state budget. Also yesterday, Governor Newsom visited two sites along Deer Creek in Sacramento County to highlight the state’s work to repair damage from earlier storms and prepare for incoming severe weather.

The state is working to support the most vulnerable Californians with 11 shelters statewide along with an additional 20 shelters that are prestaged and on standby. Temporary shelter, food and additional resources are available at these sites and all are welcome. No ID is required.

Weather Forecast

Heavy rainfall is forecasted throughout the state today and northern California on Wednesday, increasing the potential for flooding given saturated soils from the previous two weeks of precipitation. According to the National Weather Service, rainfall levels are 400-600% above average across California.

Precipitation map showing the atmospheric rivers hitting California since Jan. 6.

Emergency Alerts

Californians are reminded to dial 2-1-1 or 3-1-1 to get help or ask questions. If you have a critical emergency, call 911.

Staying informed by signing up for emergency alerts including warnings and evacuation notices. Go to to sign up to receive alerts from your county officials.

Download the Caltrans QuickMap app to receive real-time notifications for road closures, emergencies, and other traffic updates. You can download the app here.

You can also view real-time information on anticipated river floodings here.


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