Biden Declares a State of Emergency in California as Schools Close and 130k People Lose Power Due to Storms


Late Sunday night, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in California, where schools were closed and 130,000 people were without power because of the latest winter storms.

Starting on Sunday, Biden ordered help from the federal government to help locals deal with the “severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides.”

California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, had asked Vice President Joe Biden to declare an emergency earlier Sunday, after a series of storms and flooding killed at least 12 people in his state.

On Monday morning, power was out for almost 130,000 customers, most of whom were in the northwest of the state. Over 80,000 customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company were left without electricity.

On Twitter, PG&E said, “Weather system will bring heavy rain and strong winds.”

“As with the storm last weekend, flooding, downed trees, and closed roads could make it hard to fix things quickly. Customers are strongly encouraged to be ready for possible long outages.”

Monday classes were cancelled in a number of school districts in the state, including the Sacramento City Unified School District.

“At least six of our schools are without power because of the continued severe storms in the Sacramento area, and we don’t expect power to be back on by tomorrow morning,” SCUSD officials said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“This, along with the strong winds and heavy rain that are expected overnight, makes it necessary to close all campuses for the day to keep our students and staff safe.”

On Monday, several elementary schools and community colleges, as well as the Stockton Unified School District, the River Delta Unified School District, the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, and the Galt Joint Union High School District, said they would be closing.

Biden Declares a State of Emergency in California as Schools Close and 130k People Lose Power Due to Storms

A news release said that residents of Wilton were told to leave their homes because of the risk of flooding. El Dorado County has also ordered everyone to leave.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Sunday, “Those who need more time to leave, as well as those with pets and livestock, should think about leaving now.”

Officials in Sonoma County also told thousands of people who live near the Russian River floodway to leave their homes.

The storms that have been hitting California since December 27 are called atmospheric rivers. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines an atmospheric river as a long, narrow area that carries moisture from the tropics and can drop a lot of rain or snow on land.

State climatologists’ models show that counties like Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, and Santa Clara, among others, are likely to have major or even historic flooding.

Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, said in a statement on Sunday, “We’re working in conditions of intense saturation, which means that even small amounts of rain can cause major flooding.”

“We’re working with county emergency services offices to make sure communities are ready.”

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