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Rivers lap at low lying areas
by John Driscoll, Times-Standard 12/29/05
Shaun Walker/ The Times-Standard
Singley Bar Road and a dairy farm just downstream of Fernbridge were flooded by mid afternoon Wednesday.


Flooding throughout Humboldt County closed roads and bridges and prompted some residents to move trailers away from rivers Wednesday.

The Rio Dell Fire Department helped residents at the Rivers Edge trailer park haul mobile homes away from the Eel River as the river rose well above 40 feet there. The river was expected to rise just above the flood stage of 51 feet Wednesday night.

”That's the only place where the river is really threatening people,” said Rio Dell interim City Manager Jay Parish.

Low-lying areas were flooded after 3 to 5 inches fell in 24 hours Tuesday and Wednesday. Honeydew -- which usually takes the brunt of winter storms -- got 11.4 inches of rain in 24 hours.

At about 3 p.m. Wednesday, Caltrans shut Fernbridge, the stalwart bridge on State Route 211 to Ferndale, when the Eel River washed over the western approach. The river was expected to top out at 26 feet there -- 6 feet above flood stage.

Ferndale Police Chief Lonnie Lawson said the road to Port Kenyon was impassable but the city itself was not flooding.

”We're working late just in case somebody needs us,” Lawson said.

The Mad River spilled its banks at Tyee City, a group of houses about 1 1/2 miles from the river's mouth. The river was expected to nearly reach flood stage of 22 feet at Arcata. Hatchery Road in Blue Lake was flooded, and traffic was diverted down West End Road.

Freshwater Road was heavily flooded, with the high water mark well over-topping the mark set by the 1955 flood.

The Klamath River still poses a threat. A warning for the lower Klamath was in effect, and forecasters expected the river to rise just above flood stage today.

No evacuations were ordered in Klamath, though some people on Wednesday were moving trailers from low-lying areas around the river, said Yurok Tribe Public Safety Department Sgt. John Oliphant. He said that extra patrols had been ordered and the tribal police are working with the Del Norte County Sheriff's Department.

”The river is coming up pretty good and there's a lot of debris coming down with it,” Oliphant said.

A flood warning also was issued for the Trinity River around Hoopa until this morning.

U.S. Highway 101 was closed for several hours Wednesday morning due to typical winter sliding. By that afternoon, it was open to one-way controlled traffic and was expected to be fully open Wednesday evening.

The Avenue of the Giants saw some flooding, preventing access in some areas, especially around Phillipsville, said Caltrans spokeswoman Ann Jones. She said the department is monitoring those roads and Fernbridge, and all will be reopened as soon as possible.

KHSU broadcasts were off-line for about 13 hours due to power failures in Kneeland. KHSU general manager Elizabeth Hans McCrone said she was concerned about the station's capacity to deliver emergency broadcasts, and pointed to it as an example of why funds need to be raised for a backup generator.

All of this may be a typical of winter on the North Coast, but it isn't over yet.

Another storm should hit Thursday night, with the heaviest rains coming Friday. Another storm is expected Sunday, which could push rivers to flood stage again, said Nancy Dean, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service.

Then there's a storm anticipated Tuesday and Wednesday, and another one next Thursday and Friday.

It's all because a steady jet stream is funneling moisture-laden air from as far away as Indonesia, Dean said.

Gale warnings on the Pacific Ocean will remain in effect for days, as combined swells and wind waves stay around 20 feet and higher. High tides around 9 feet are also forecast for the next week.


John Driscoll covers natural resources/industry. He can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll@times-standard.com.




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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