California dries off after storms batter state for days

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Californians were cleaning up and drying off Friday after a series of storms dumped heavy rain and snow throughout the state, caused at least six deaths and forced the rescue of more than a dozen people in rushing rivers.

Road crews will be working to clear mud, debris and trees that blocked some roads from Malibu to San Francisco. In Ventura County, residents were urged to avoid coming into contact with storm runoff or ocean water for several days after flooding at an RV park sent 4,500 gallons (17,000 liters) of sewage into a river.

The latest storm moved east Thursday and was set to unleash heavy rain, snow and wind in Colorado.

“(It) will be slamming the East Coast by Sunday,” National Weather Service forecaster Steve Anderson said. “From Maine to Florida.”

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The three-day drenching put a dent in California’s drought, dumping as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain in parts of Southern California, and between 3 and 6 inches (7.6 and 15 centimeters) in Los Angeles.

Rain and snow that battered the state canceled flights, uprooted trees, knocked down power lines and caused localized flooding.

A 57-year-old hiker was in critical condition Thursday night after a boulder hit her in Malibu. In Riverside and San Bernardino counties east of Los Angeles, firefighters rescued 13 mostly homeless people who became stranded on islands in the Santa Ana River.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department posted a dramatic video of a helicopter rescue of one person caught in the rising San Gabriel River.

Also in Los Angeles, about 20 residents were evacuated from their homes in the Hollywood Hills when mud slid from beneath a house. No one was hurt and the residents were allowed to return home several hours later.

In San Francisco, fallen trees blocked the city’s iconic cable car tracks for hours Thursday and similarly delayed other commuter trains in region.

In the Marin County community of Mill Valley, just north of San Francisco, a man was killed when he jumped into the street to dodge a falling tree Wednesday night and was hit by a van, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Earlier Wednesday, a branch from a falling tree killed a 42-year-old homeless man in Oakland. The man may have been “just trying to stay dry” under the tree, CHP officer Herman Baza said.

CHP reported that four people were killed in separate Northern California crashes caused by rain-slickened roads this week, including a 1-year-old who was among three people in a vehicle who died Tuesday from a crash in the Sierra Nevada foothill town of Placerville.

In the Southern California hillside community of Oak Park, where residents used pumps and sandbags to hold off rushing storm water, longtime resident Diane Starzak said her neighborhood “kind of dodged the bullet” as the storms began to taper off.

“We actually had our suitcases in the car and were ready to leave,” Starzak said.

Meanwhile, blizzard conditions blanketed the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada and the region’s ski resorts with as much as 4 feet (1.2 meters) of snow just in time for the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

So much snow accumulated on the tail of an executive jet parked at the Tahoe Truckee Airport that the plane’s nose tilted skyward in a stationary wheelie.

Pacific Gas & Electric said 280,000 customers lost power at some point since Wednesday. Most homes had their power restored by the end of the day.

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Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalists Janie Har in San Francisco and John Rogers and Amanda Lee Myers in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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