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Levee breaches cause additional flooding in Monterey County; New evacuations ordered

PIX Now 10:05

SALINAS -- Multiple private levees in south Monterey County were breached on Tuesday, causing additional flooding into the Salinas River and prompting evacuations, according to Monterey County Sheriff's Office.

The levees were privately owned and are not maintained by the county.

The sheriff's office said it was responding to the incidents to ensure public safety and evacuation orders have been issued for the affected areas.

Monterey County emergency information

Evacuation map: Search your address  

The county anticipates the effects of levee breaks to be felt downriver and that narrow areas of the river were expected to increase in velocity and are especially dangerous.

Residents in low-lying areas of Salinas River were also currently under an evacuation order. According to the National Weather Service, the Salinas River is expected to flood starting early Wednesday morning.

Earlier Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved a resolution of emergency addressing the recent atmospheric river storms in the region.

During the meeting, Supervisor Luis Alejo thanked all county public workers and first responders for their assistance throughout the several storms and they'll continue to do in the storms ahead.

"A difference in this disaster situation from previous ones is that we had a team that was dedicated and making sure the public was getting timely critical information," said Alejo.

Several experts and officials spoke at Tuesday's meeting about the county's current efforts in mitigating storm impacts.

The county's interim emergency services manager Tracy Molfino said that after 16 days of emergency, Monterey County has faced "substantial damage" from the storms, affecting thousands of residents.

The initial expense of the storm beginning Dec. 26 is estimated to be around $8 million. This sum is expected to "considerably" increase once the cleanup process begins, according to Molfino.

Shelters at Sherwood Hall and the Monterey County Fairgrounds currently have a 100-bed capacity. The Prunedale Grande and King City shelters currently have a 30-bed capacity.

New county Sheriff Tina Nieto announced that 65 National Guard members are being sent to help with evacuations and are gathering information about the storms and resulting floods.

Randell Ishii, county director of Public Works, Facilities, and Parks, said crews have been scheduled to work 12-hour shifts in order to maintain 24-hour assistance to residents and have been supplemented with outside contractors.

According to Ishii, the impact the storms have had on infrastructure have been categorized as Category C, warranting "permanent repair and restoration needs where roads have failed and need to be repaired as quickly as possible."

National Weather Service meteorologist David King said the rainfall in the county is anywhere between 200 percent and 600 percent of what is normal for the region, noting that river flows continue to be one of the main threats to residents.

According to forecasts, Monterey County will experience another storm system starting Wednesday that will flow into the weekend.

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