Placer County officials declared a state of local emergency Tuesday, hoping the designation will help the county obtain emergency funds to help deal with damage from a series of heavy January storms.
The county that stretches from Roseville to the Nevada border was among the hardest hit in the region by record rain and snowfall over the last three weeks. The series of atmospheric rivers that swept through the mountains caused Placer particular damage, including downed power lines, avalanches and road washouts amid flooding along the western slope.
County officials estimate Placer has suffered at least $8 million in damage to public infrastructure, but officials warn that more damage will be discovered as the county digs out from the heavy snow.
“Much of the damage above the snowline is still buried beneath the snow and therefore cannot be identified at this time,” county emergency staff wrote in a report to the Board of Supervisors.
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County Office of Emergency Services director John McEldowney on Tuesday urged residents to clear snow from their home roofs and decks, to avoid roof collapses as more expected storms arrive in the coming weeks.
Officials say they will try to move as quickly as possible to fix one of the key trouble areas – a washed-out road in the town of Alta that has cut a few dozen residents off from the outside world.
An 80-foot-long section of Morton Road and a large earthen berm beneath it was “obliterated” more than a week ago by high waters in Canyon Creek, McEldowney told supervisors on Tuesday.
“The soil ... is probably down at the Pacific Ocean by now,” Placer County Public Works director Ken Grehm said.
Officials say they have been working with residents to keep a back dirt pathway open for limited access in and out of the rural subdivision in Alta.
Meanwhile, the county is putting together a proposed fix to bring to the board for its approval the first week of February. Officials estimate that fix could cost $2 million to $3 million. They said they hope the board’s local emergency proclamation will put the county in line for relief funds that can help pay for the repair.
Sacramento County last week declared its own state of local emergency. Gov. Jerry Brown also declared a California state of emergency Monday for nearly every county due to storms over the past two months. Under Brown’s declaration, Caltrans will ask for assistance from the Federal Highway Administration and the state Office of Emergency Services will help local governments.