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Massive storm, loads of power outages, downed trees, crashed cars, flooding and debris flows. Like something out of a book, it’s closed roads leading in and out of Mendocino County. The water flowing down the land left bare from massive fires last summer. The 101 at Laytonville is closed in both directions. The storm came down on Sonoma County around the burn scars left by the Walbridge, Glass and Meyers fires last year and the 2019 Kincade fire. Residents have been warned they may have to evacuate as they’re expecting unsafe conditions with the peak of the storm today. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for parts of the County affected by the Walbridge fire. Another warning for flooding around creeks and small streams with heavy rain. Heavy snow and falling trees were reported outside Laytonville last night, so the main route in and out of Humboldt County and the North Coast was closed off. There’s also a high wind warning today in Sonoma County with the strongest winds expected to come at a time of the heaviest rain.

Blizzard conditions expected in the Sierra Nevada and evacuations have been ordered around some parts of Northern Calif. The evacuation orders in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties around the areas of the August Complex fire. There are also strike teams and task forces positioned in parts of the five counties where the fire burned over one million acres.  Deputies were door knocking to get people out of their homes if there was no phone service or they had no way to get emergency notifications. Deputies also made people sign a refusal waiver if they wouldn’t leave during the atmospheric river storm system. It hit the north bay first, then moved further south carrying debris like massive boulders, dirt, trees and more. There’s also a rare blizzard warning for Lake Tahoe and a large area of the Sierra, with a possibility of up to 6 feet of snow dropping on upper elevations and winds faster than 100 mph over ridgetops.

The storm has come through Lake and Mendocino counties with heavy rain, snow and high winds, leaving some roads closed and homes and businesses in the dark. The winter storm warning is in effect still until this afternoon. Snow was reported from Clearlake to Clearlake Oaks, Cobb, Lakeport, Kelseyville and Upper Lake. Chains were needed on Highway 175 over Cobb, from Socrates Mine Road to Red Hills Road. And Caltrans had a snow plow out at the Glasgow Grade near Lower Lake as cars were stranded, stuck in the snow. Lake Co News reports around dinner time last night, there were up to 50 vehicles stuck there. There were also high wind speeds in the area, from 30-40 miles/hour in some areas. Reports there were also multiple cars stranded on both sides of the Lake last night at the Mendocino County line along Highway 20 west of Witter Springs Road. Heavy snow was forecasted thru this morning at the 1,500 to 2,500 foot elevation.

A woman from Ukiah is going to prison for an embezzlement scheme from her former employer. The Mendocino County DA’s office reports 36 year old Sonia Lucia Lau will serve time at the Ukiah Jail for eight counts of stealing money while she was the bookkeeper for 15 years, since she was a teen. She’ll serve 1 year behind bars as part of the Realignment sentence and another nearly 6 years on probation. The victim says Lau used the money on football games, wrestling matches, and a breast augmentation surgery. The victim says he was left with $50,000 in credit card debt too. Lau will have to pay him $1,000/month until she repays nearly $205,000.

A bunch of car crashes reported in Mendocino County. As the rain and ice and in some cases heavy snow came down, cars became stranded or slid out. Reports of that and more in Brooktrails and on Highway 101. The highway had to be closed around Laytonville because of snowy conditions. Road closures reported on the 101 Willits Grade and Sherwood Rd in Brooktrails. The CHP reminding to drive slow and stay home if possible. You can check their website for reopenings and new closures as the storm is expected to peak midmorning today. There were several power outages also reported in Mendocino County last night. Check the PG&E website for exact outages, they’ve got a map posted there.

Reports of power outages in Covelo, Brooktrails, Willits, Laytonville and on the coast in Fort Bragg and Caspar. PG&E’s website had hundreds listed without power in those areas. Power lines were also reported on the road in Willits. The PG&E website says the outage is due to the weather, something they had warned about earlier this week as their meteorologists forecasted heavy rain and high winds along with possible snow. As of last night around 7:30 the PG&E map had over 4,000 residents without power in Mendocino County. There was snow reported on Highway 175 between Mendocino and Lake County as well as the upper ridges of the Mayacama Mountains. Last night they were only allowing cars with chains thru Highway 175. The Mendocino County Sheriff posted on its Facebook page several times about dangerous road conditions and to drive slow and be mindful of the conditions or stay home if possible.  

It’s a no for new marijuana retailer in Fort Bragg. On Monday the city council said no to Brandy Moulton for her plan for a retail, manufacturing and plant-start microbusiness. The Advocate reports the council voted against the Planning Commission’s decision to also deny Moulton’s proposal to take over the former Floor Store building across from the Post Office and Purity Supermarket for Moulton’s Sunshine Holistic. It’s confusing though because the city council has to have 3 votes to overturn, and it was 2 to 1. There are five seats, one is vacant and the Vice Mayor recused herself for a conflict of interest. It had to be a unanimous 3 to 0 to overturn the planning commissions denial of the project. So it does not proceed. The newspaper reports Moulton already owns a dispensary outside Fort Bragg on Highway 1.  She says she’ll reapply.

The Fort Bragg City Council got some good news about their winter homeless shelter. There was a couple of weeks where the city was going to be without a shelter, but now the Mendocino Coast Jewish Community Shul in Caspar has agreed to provide space for the shelter for the final two weeks of March. Hospitality Center is hosting the shelter thru the local Lutheran Church, but the space was only available thru the middle of March. The mayor announced at the meeting this week that the Jewish Shul on the grounds of the Caspar Community Center will take over for the last part of the month.

The former chief of the police force in Willits is suing the city. Former Chief Alexis Blaylock was only in the position less than 2 months when she resigned. A press release back then said it was for personal reasons, something the city manager said she was sad about. But just after the resignation Blaylock said she hit roadblocks right away, but didn’t say anything more than that because her, “professional ethics and standards of confidentiality” prevented her from speaking out. She is now suing for damages, something noted on a city council agenda a couple of weeks ago.

A Clean Streets campaign started several years ago in Willits brings in a haul of garbage. The Willits News reports after starting the project 12 years ago, Willits resident David Hatton is still at it, trying to rid the town of trash, one week at a time. The paper reports Hatton had an eight mile route, cleaning newspaper dispensers and collecting change, then noticed so much litter, he added that to his work. Hatton tells the paper he’s found everything from cigarette butts, piles of whippit cartridges and discarded needles.

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer with a weekly report to the Board of Supervisors saying there are 18 people currently in the hospital. Earlier this week we reported 14, so that’s quite a jump. Two people are in the ICU, it was just one in our same earlier report. But Dr. Andy Coren also says we appear to be flattening the curve from where we were two weeks ago. He says he’s hopeful the decline will continue. There had been 35-40 cases a day, now it’s down below 30 or so. Coren says most of the new cases are from gatherings, not wearing masks, not socially distancing and not frequently washing hands, and a few small outbreaks. Thankfully the outbreak at the Mendocino County Jail appears to be contained. There was however one new case Sunday.

In Lake County, the Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace reports the same, cases seem to be plateauing, but six out of 8 ICU beds were taken at local hospitals. The good news is the state’s cases are also declining and the 14-day positivity rate was down since early January. Hospitalizations are also down, but the number of those dying is still increasing. There have been 32 deaths in Lake County, about 2/3rd’s in the 70 years or older age group, another third 60 to 69 years of age, and 9 percent were under age 60. There’s also apparently been more cases in kids, newborns to age 14. Dr. Pace announced to the board that some of the other strains have shown up in the county, something epidemiologists are keeping a close eye on.

Another emergency order to keep the public out of Lake County Superior Court due to COVID-19. The new emergency order extends until the end of February, due to a judicial emergency, allowed under state law. The California Supreme Court Chief has authorized the local court to extend statutory deadlines in criminal trials no more than 30 more days. So any jury trial that was supposed to start around this time, this month, will then start around the third week of February instead. It’s now the sixth time there’s been an emergency order requested by the Lake County Superior Court. Lake Co News reports trials stopped last March when the pandemic first surfaced, and they were held off until the end of summer when they restarted. Then again at the beginning of December after the fall surges of coronavirus started.  These last orders lasting now for 3 months.

Nobody’s talking much about this aspect of the pandemic… the loss of water for nonpayment of bills.  A new report says the Governor did ban water disconnections during the pandemic, but bills started to pile up for many across the state. The report from the State Water Resources Control Board says unpaid water bills total $1 billion and since people won’t be able to pay them when the ban on disconnections stop, there could be a water debt crisis. The Governor spoke about it at his weekly press conference Monday, saying it’s a critical issue which jeopardizes basic human needs during the disaster, including shelter from the virus, safe water to drink and the ability to wash hands.

A woman’s been found dead from a gunshot wound in Upper Lake. The Lake County Sheriff’s Dept says they got a call after 5:30 pm last night to reports of a gunshot victim and found the woman, already dead. They say witnesses told them 56 year old Christine Mora was shot to death by her 35 year old stepson, Matthew who had run from the scene before deputies arrived. Witnesses say Matthew Mora was drunk and arguing with family members at their house when he shot Christine. He’s been arrested and is held on one million dollars bail, an amount generally used for murder suspects.

Mendocino County Public Health and Adventist Health are working with local community health clinics to get residents vaccinated. The partnership reports inoculating over 2,400 residents including 570 in Boonville at the Anderson Valley Health Center. 30 at the Baechtel Creek Medical Clinic in Willits and in North County, 220 people got their vaccines at Long Valley Health Center. And on the coast, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) vaccinated 675 people and Redwood Coast Medical Services vaccinated 905. They’ve been giving the shots first to healthcare workers, people 75 and older, and people in essential job sectors such as education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture.

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