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Northern California is experiencing a short break between significant rainfall

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Northern California is currently experiencing a short break between significant rainfall. Storms this week and last weekend brought strong winds and heavy rain to the coast and the Sacramento Valley. And in Sacramento, residents such as Bella Dalton are preparing for another storm expected this weekend.

BELLA DALTON: I am making some sandbags to help with flooding in our garage. Our patio area currently looks like a creek.

MARTÍNEZ: This atmospheric river brought down trees and power lines and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity, some for days. CapRadio's Kate Wolffe joins us from Sacramento. Kate, how are things looking?

KATE WOLFFE, BYLINE: Hi, A. So we weren't prepared for the New Year's Eve storm that hit last weekend, but we overprepared for the rains that hit Wednesday and Thursday, and those ended up being relatively mild. That being said, we're not out of the woods yet with many more days of rain coming. Out here in Sacramento, we're seeing lots of downed trees. Arborists, city workers, utility folks are out there working overtime to clear roadways, assess damage and get the lights back on for people. We've seen at least six deaths caused by these storms, including a 2-year-old. Some folks have been trapped in cars on flooded highways. And it's really been a test of some decades-old levees along highways. Some have been breached out here.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So what about the rest of the state? How's it doing?

WOLFFE: So if it was lighter than expected in Sacramento, it was not so up in the mountains, where strong winds and snow knocked out power in many places. And there was a lot of damage, actually, along the coast, especially near Santa Cruz. Down there, we saw water overflowing onto properties, destroying some beachfront businesses and crushed a pier that was a well-known tourist attraction, too.

MARTÍNEZ: I know that pier. I know that pier well. Now, you spoke to a lot of people who are taking advantage of the break in the rain. Who'd you meet?

WOLFFE: Right. So I went down to a sandbag pickup location, where dozens of people were coming through, filling up bags with the help of city employees. And Don Adcock has lived in the area for a long time. He said he's seen rain like this before, but not for a long while. He was picking up 10 sandbags for his property but said he'd be back for more later.

DON ADCOCK: Definitely should've been here a couple of days ago, getting this ready and being prepared, as opposed to doing it out here in an emergency in the rain.

WOLFFE: And a few months ago, Sacramento resident Bella Dalton, who we heard from earlier, bought her first home in the city. She and her partner have seen some flooding in their garage.

DALTON: California has needed rain for years and years. We didn't need it all at once. But now that it's here, I think it's just really a lot of prep and hoping that there's minimal damage.

MARTÍNEZ: Didn't need it all at once. She is absolutely right there. What are officials saying about people? And what should they expect this coming weekend?

WOLFFE: Right. So officials want people to stay indoors as much as possible, stay off those roadways and to be prepared for power outages. And they especially want people who live near bodies of water that are overflowing and could flood to be cautious. There are also concerns about debris flows in areas that have seen massive wildfires in recent years. So officials are keeping an eye on those areas. And overall, they say people need to be patient, too, when it comes to getting power back because emergency repair crews for utilities will likely be working in stormy weather.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Kate Wolffe of CapRadio in Sacramento, Calif. Kate, thanks a lot.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BAEGEL'S "WATCH YOUR BACK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kate Wolffe