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Gov. Visits Levee, Warns of Dangers

Schwarzenegger says breaches could cause a disaster comparable to Hurricane Katrina.

April 14, 2006|From the Associated Press

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited a vulnerable levee along the San Joaquin River on Thursday and warned that the state needed to shore up its levees to prevent a catastrophe similar to the one that struck Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

"We've seen one big disaster in New Orleans, and we want to make sure we don't go through something like that," said Schwarzenegger, who asked the federal government earlier this year for $6 billion to repair levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

On a rare dry day in the region, the governor declared a state of emergency in nine additional counties damaged by more than two weeks of storms and flooding. More rain is expected across the state, with showers and possible thunderstorms predicted for the Los Angeles area beginning this morning.

In Marin County, authorities recovered the body of 73-year-old Walter Guthrie, who was buried in the rear of his home in a mudslide early Wednesday, said Battalion Chief Greg Moore of the Mill Valley Fire Department.

California Conservation Corps crews in Firebaugh spent Thursday protecting houses with layers of sandbags, while residents braced for possible flooding.

The biggest danger for the Fresno County town has passed, but there was still some concern that as excess water released from Sierra Nevada dams wound its way to the narrow San Joaquin River channel that borders the town, it would push through the earthen levees and reach homes a few hundred yards away, state water officials said.

On Thursday, the governor declared a state of emergency in Alameda, El Dorado, Kings, Marin, Placer, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. Earlier this week, he declared a state of emergency in Amador, Calaveras, Fresno, Merced, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Stanislaus counties.

The declaration helps accelerate the flow of state dollars to local and county response agencies that have been straining to cope with the flooding and storms.

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