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Rainstorms hit Mother Lode

A storm system that arrived in Northern California early Wednesday will keep the Mother Lode under flood watch today through Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

The Sierra foothill communities of Angels Camp and Sonora could see up to 10 inches of rain over the next few days — about 30 percent of its average annual rainfall of 32 inches, according to the National Weather Service.


Inmate Crew No. 1 from Vallecito Conservation Camp fills sandbags at the Copperoplis Fire Protection District Station. Amy Alonzo Rozak / Union Democrat, copyright 2012


A wind advisory was issued Wednesday, and the next few days will likely bring stronger winds, said meteorologist Holly Osborn.

The Mother Lode is expected to see winds at 20 to 30 mph, with gusts at 55 mph.

The windy conditions increase the chances of flooding because storm drains become clogged with fallen leaves. 

“If there is flooding from anything, it’s generally from a storm drain that’s plugged up,” said City of Sonora Public Works Supervisor Bill Seldon. 

Public Works spent Wednesday sweeping leaves off streets and will patrol the city for clogged drains today, Seldon said.

The city is also monitoring water levels in Sonora and Woods creeks, which have overflowed in the past.

The Downtown Plaza shopping center on Stockton Road, Mother Lode Fairgrounds and Woods Creek Rotary Park have flooded during previous storms, Seldon said.

Calaveras County has seen flooding around Cosgrove Creek in Valley Springs, but the Calaveras County Water District has worked in the area over the past few years to alleviate the problem, said Sheriff’s Sgt. Rachelle Whiting.

“There have been improvements,” she said. “We haven’t seen the significant flooding that, historically, we’ve had.”

Free sand is available at eight locations in Calaveras County and four in Tuolumne County. 

Bags are not provided in Tuolumne County but can be purchased at hardware stores.

“Overall, we’re situated pretty well,” said Tracie Riggs, coordinator of the Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services. “(Water) flows downhill, but there are those places where people really need to make sure that they’re paying attention.”

Riggs recommends Mother Lode residents keep nonperishable food, flashlights and extra water on hand in case of a power outage. 

There were no power outages in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties Thursday morning.

Tuolumne Utilities District is monitoring its 57-mile ditch system to keep it clear of tree limbs and other debris that could damage water pipes.

“We’re just on extra alert,” district spokeswoman Lisa Westbrook said Wednesday. “Everything looks good right now.” 

Waste Management announced this week that trash and recycling collection could be stalled if conditions are severe enough. 

Customers are asked to leave their containers out until the end of their scheduled pickup day. If Waste Management is not able to collect the trash, it will collect twice the normal amount on the next scheduled service day.

“We will do everything in our power to continue waste and recycling service collection,” said Waste Management and Cal Sierra Disposal District Manager Tom Teach. 

Customers can call the toll-free hotline at 888-558-0616 for updates on collection by neighborhood. 

SEI Solid Waste in Calaveras County did not have changes in collection as of Thursday morning. 

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