President Reagan has approved federal disaster assistance for 16 additional counties ravaged by flooding in Northern California, Gov. George Deukmejian announced Thursday.
In the meantime, the body of a Lake County construction worker was found in Dry Creek near Roseville. The death of Daniel Miller, 44, of Kelseyville, brought to at least 15 the number of people who died in the floods that began Feb. 12 and continued through last weekend.
In San Jose, 400 Gilroy flood victims filed an $80-million damage claim against the Santa Clara Valley Water District, contending that the district was negligent in the design, maintenance and supervision of its properties along swollen Uvas Creek.
They contended that the district was partly responsible for rezoning the creek region in 1981 in order to apply lower flood control standards. "Residents were told they no longer needed flood insurance because they were no longer in the flood plain," said Ray Bourhis, the homeowners' attorney.
Water district spokesman Jim Melton said the district had no responsibility for the flooding, does not own the dam or easements and has no money available for creek maintenance or flood control construction.
Nor, he said, did the district have anything to do with the rezoning. He said flood maps are developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The move by the Gilroy residents--who said they will file a lawsuit if their claim is not recognized--was the latest in a rash of legal actions by residents and property owners in various Northern California counties.
The City of Petaluma is confronted by millions of dollars in damage claims by people whose homes along the Petaluma River were flooded. In Napa, residents in an area surrounded by levees said failure of a city-owned pump resulted in water damage to their properties.
Aid List Grows
Counties added by Reagan to those eligible for federal disaster aid are Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Lassen, Mendocino, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Sierra, Sutter, Tehama, Tuolumne and Yolo.
The President already had approved aid for a dozen other counties: Glenn, Humboldt, Modoc, Lake, Marin, Napa, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yuba.
Federal assistance may include temporary housing, low-interest loans, individual and family grants, business and farm loans and loss amendments to previous-year tax returns.
At the same time, California's two U.S. senators, Democrat Alan Cranston and Republican Pete Wilson, introduced legislation to provide up to $100 million from an existing emergency road repair fund to help rebuild the state's roads and highways destroyed by the floods.
Wilson said the federal Highway Trust Fund, which provides money for emergency road repairs after natural disasters, places a $30-million limit on assistance to a state. The proposed legislation would allow that ceiling to be exceeded because of the widespread damage.
He noted that Nevada, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Washington and Colorado also have sustained major road damage that may exceed $30 million.
The bill would not add any money to the highway fund.
In northwestern Nevada, natural gas service was restored to about two-thirds of the several thousand customers left without it over a 2,800-square-mile area when a pipeline was snapped by the raging Truckee River last week.