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Heavy Rain Hits Bay Area; 1 Man Is Missing

The storm triggers many mudslides but will likely bring only light showers to Southern California.

April 13, 2006|From the Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Heavy rains triggered mudslides across Northern California on Wednesday, leaving a man missing and believed buried in his backyard and forcing the evacuation of several homes.

A 73-year-old Mill Valley man was clearing debris about 3 a.m. when a huge wall of mud slid down the hill behind his house, according to the Mill Valley Fire Department.

About 40 rescue workers were digging with hands and buckets in the slide, which was about 50 feet wide and 12 to 14 feet deep, but they stopped because the situation had become too dangerous, said Battalion Chief Greg Moore.

"There's a lot of debris to remove," Moore said. "We've switched to recovery mode."

Three other homes were evacuated because of the mudslide in Mill Valley, a hilly community about 10 miles north of San Francisco, Moore said.

Mudslides caused by heavy rains were reported all along the coast of the Bay Area, with Sonoma, Marin and Santa Cruz counties hit hardest by the latest storm, which dumped up to 6 inches of rain over 24 hours.

In Brisbane, about 10 miles south of San Francisco, three homes were evacuated after a mudslide struck a house.

The storm was expected to bring light showers as it moved 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. Another storm was expected to arrive Sunday.

"In all indications, it will be the end of the long-standing wet weather pattern," he said.

Six schools were closed in coastal Marin County because the roads were too flooded, said Stephen Rosenthal, superintendent of the Shoreline Unified School District, which serves Bodega Bay, Tomales, Inverness and Point Reyes Station.

A number of mudslides were reported in the Santa Cruz Mountains, including one that blocked access to 10 homes, said Dinah Phillips, a spokeswoman for Santa Cruz County's Office of Emergency Services.

San Joaquin Valley residents, spared the worst of the most recent storm, were relieved to see water levels at Millerton Lake drop after having reached full capacity.

To keep the dam northeast of Fresno from overflowing, officials had been releasing the excess water into the riverbed, straining levees not built to withstand so much pressure.

Residents in Firebaugh had been stockpiling sandbags in preparation for a possible flood.

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