Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday declared a state of emergency for nine more California counties in the wake of heavy rains, flooding and levee troubles.
Storms that dumped up to 6 inches of rain over 24 hours triggered mudslides across Northern California, burying an elderly man Wednesday in an avalanche of mud, closing roads and forcing the evacuation of several homes.
Schwarzenegger is directing all state agencies use all of their resources to alleviate the emergency under the direction of the state's Office of Emergency Services.
The new counties under emergency declaration are Alameda, El Dorado, Kings, Marin, Placer, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Tulare and Tuolumne.
Dozens of rescue workers in Mill Valley searched for Walter Guthrie, 73, whose home was hit by a slide that was about 50 feet wide and 12 to 14 feet deep.
Rescue teams used a crane to remove the debris and planned to tear down the house to locate the missing man if necessary, Mill Valley Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Moore said.
“We’ve switched to recovery mode,” Moore said.
Three other homes were evacuated because of the mudslide in Mill Valley, a hilly community about 10 miles north of San Francisco, Moore said.
In Brisbane, about 10 miles south of San Francisco, three homes were evacuated after a mudslide struck a house. Two homes in Daly City also were evacuated and mudslides were reported in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Also, a house in Monte Rio in Sonoma County slid off its foundation and collapsed before landing in a heap of debris in the middle of the street.
Six schools were closed in coastal Marin County because the roads were too flooded, said Stephen Rosenthal, superintendent of the Shoreline Unified School District.
Heavy rains were blamed for power outages that affected a few thousand Pacific Gas & Electric Co. customers, mostly around the Russian River in Sonoma County, said company spokesman Paul Moreno. Most of the homes had power restored by Wednesday night.
“What we’re seeing is the effect of many days of rain,” Moreno said. “We have saturated soils that cause trees to topple and cause small landslides that move utility poles.”
The storm was expected to move south along the coast over the next couple of days, reaching Southern California on Friday, said Steve Anderson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey. One more storm was expected to arrive Sunday.
“Hopefully, this will be the end of the wet period,” Anderson said. “In all indications, it will be the end of the long-standing wet weather pattern.”