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Northern California officials assess heavy storm damage

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — It’s too soon to peg a damage estimate from days of rainy weather that turned streets into rivers and living rooms into swimming pools throughout Northern California, state and county officials said Friday.

In San Benito County south of San Francisco, where dozens of people were rescued from flooding homes in a dramatic early morning operation this week, workers spent a dry day checking on damage including two streets and possibly a county bridge, said Kevin O’Neill, the county’s emergency services manager.

About 50 houses along Lovers Lane in the small rural town of Hollister suffered high water damage after a nearby creek overflowed but no estimate had been calculated on the cost of the damage.

“No homes are in water anymore. There is still standing water in fields and stuff, and maybe some outbuildings are affected,” he said. “The sun’s out today, so that’s good.”

The massive rain and snowfall that prompted a rare blizzard warning in parts of the Sierra Nevada was helping much of Northern California recover from a six-year drought. The series of storms has also added 39 billion gallons of water to Lake Tahoe since Jan. 1.

Mountains near Big Sur in Monterey County registered more than 34 inches — nearly 3 feet — of rain since Jan. 2, according to the National Weather Service.

The rain toppled or damaged about 370 trees in San Francisco alone. A woman was killed by a falling tree while walking across a golf course in San Ramon, about 35 miles east of San Francisco. In Sonoma County, crews surveyed damage after the Russian River receded from its highest level in a decade. The water spilled into streets and into homes, forcing residents to travel by boat.

Kelly Huston, a deputy director with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said Friday that counties were just starting the process of tabulating costs.

“It’s likely to take us a little while,” he said in an email.

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