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Another day of rain expected

Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
Heavy machinery is used to push standing water out of low-lying areas in the parking lot of the Carson Mall on Sunday. Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal
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About an inch of rain is expected from the second storm of the New Year’s weekend today, much less than the 3 inches that fell Friday and Saturday and swamped roads, homes and business and caused a state of emergency in Carson City.

“This second-story system is a tough one to call because it’s kind of splitting more toward the south,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Shulz. “It should not bring as much rain as the last one, but it doesn’t mean we won’t get a good amount.”

Snow is expected above 5,000 feet today.

The remainder of the week is expected to be dry, Shulz said, with a few spots of rain possible over the weekend.

Carson City Public Works Director Andy Burnham said that on Sunday many of the major roadways in town had been cleaned of mud. Some of the worst problems were in western and downtown.

“We’ve made the roads passable, and that’s what we’re shooting for,” he said. “We’re hoping to do the same thing today. We’ll have the same number of people working all day. We’ll continue to do recovery operations and clean up debris and that kind of stuff.”

Burnham said a 200-foot swath of road on Murphy Drive behind Western Nevada Community College was swept away, exposing a gas line, but the area was fixed Sunday. Combs Canyon Road was also undercut, exposing electrical conduits. That road was also fixed.

A skeleton crew relaxed throughout the day to go to work Sunday night wherever it was needed. More than 170,000 sandbags were ready before the first storm hit.

“They are still available all over town,” Burnham said. “And if people see them on a pallet, they’re more than likely to use them. We encourage people to help us by helping themselves.”

Much of the cleanup of Carson City Sunday was due to the work of about 160 people – many of them were prison inmates from throughout Northern Nevada.

About 30 of the workers were city employees, who worked even longer days than the 12-hour shifts put in by inmates. The other 30 were contract workers hired by the city to clear mud with their trucks and remove large debris.

On Bunker Hill Drive, in northwest Carson City, inmates from the Tonopah Conservation Camp pushed dirt from curbs into the roadway for Caterpillars to scoop away. At the Public Works Department off of Butti Way, inmates from the Carlin Conservation Camp filled more than 6,000 sandbags Sunday. Crew supervisor Earl Bevin said the crew hit a torrent of rain driving in through Lovelock Saturday; it was more difficult to see in than any of the monsoons he encountered during 18 months in Vietnam.

In downtown Carson City, an all-female crew from Jean Conservation Camp, south of Las Vegas, pushed thick, dark layers of mud from the sides of streets into the roadway with shovels.

“We arrived about 10 p.m. (Saturday night),” said crew supervisor Joe Livreri. “And we got up about 6 a.m. this morning to start work … We could be here for up to two weeks, if we’re needed.”

More than 400 inmates are working throughout five counties in Northern Nevada to help clean up. Inmates receive credit for time served for their work. Much of their efforts focused in Lockwood, east of Reno, and in Douglas County, which has twice as many inmate crews as Carson.

“Douglas is under water still in a lot of places,” said Rich Harvey, resource program coordinator for the Nevada Division of Forestry, which oversees the crews. “It’s a little bit of a high priority right now, but we’re taking care of everybody as best we can.”

Today’s forecast includes rain, heavy at times. But if it is met by a cold front, like the ones in Northern Nevada a year ago, the area might have snow, according to Shulz. He called this weekend’s rainfall accumulation substantial. It exceeded the average for the month of December, which is 1.74 inches.

The parking lot at Carson Mall was full of mud Sunday afternoon. Gottschalks had sandbags in front of one small wall ,and there were huge puddles in the parking lot.

The associate manager of Carl’s Jr., Mike Busby, said business picked back up Sunday, although the restaurant had been evacuated 10 a.m. Saturday. Carl’s Jr. is in the parking lot of Carson Mall.

“We were forced to leave by the sheriff’s department,” he said. “It was major flooding. It was pretty bad. The whole lot was covered with water.”

Two employees were trapped trying to leave the parking lot Saturday morning, and Busby pulled them out with his Bravado SUV.

“I don’t think any more rain is going to help,” he said.

December 2005 averaged 7.4 inches of rainfall, the second highest amount since official recordings began in 1948. In 1955, 10.39 inches of rain fell in Carson. The city receives an annual average of 10.34 inches.

n Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.