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

UPDATE: Undercover video shows alleged animal abuse at Abbotsford egg farm

One employee wearing logo of Chilliwack chicken-catching company already facing abuse charges

Kelowna animal rights activist speaks out amid charges in 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Amy Soranno, along with three other activists, will appear in court on Sept. 3

2020 Mission Dahlia Flower and Grape Festival opens Saturday

The event, held at Shangrila Farm in Mission, runs until Sept. 30

Inside the Mission RCMP: COMPSTAT – Sharing vital information

Part Two of a five-part series on the Mission RCMP detachment

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

PHOTOS/VIDEO: Wings and Wheels set for weekend lift-off in Abbotsford

Fundraiser to raise money for Crystal Gala Foundation and the fight against breast cancer

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Most Read