SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — A band of storms known as the ‘atmospheric river’ event started Tuesday and has continued to bring rain Thursday. The storm has caused widespread damage, road hazards and accidents throughout the region.
Multiple swiftwater rescues took place from Thursday morning until the early Thursday afternoon. The first rescue took place early Thursday morning in Santa Margarita when a man was rescued from a tree after attempting to cross a creek in his vehicle.
Another water rescue operation took place in Paso Robles on the Salinas River near the Niblick Bridge. The first report involved a man trapped in the water with his dog who was pulled to safety, but unfortunately, the dog died.
A second person was rescued from the river shortly after 10 a.m. A CHP helicopter was on scene to assist the operation with several other agencies assisting with pulling people from the water. Atascadero Fire Captain Matt Miranda also performed one of the swift water rescues. Another individual was rescued from the Salinas River near the intersection of North River Road and 24th Street. A total of five people were rescued from the Salina River and two of them were sent to the hospital.
An additional rescue occurred in the afternoon on North River Road on the Salinas River. A County Search and Rescue team, Paso Robles Fire Department and Cal Fire responded to the water rescuer operations along with CHP.
During the evening hours of Tuesday, March 20 on Highway 41 between San Gabriel Road and Los Altos Road, a vehicle went over the embankment. The driver was able to self-extricate and climb back up the embankment.
A driver died in a crash on Highway 41 on her way from Atascadero to Morro Bay Wednesday. Sabrina Andarzagerber, 19, from Morro Bay was driving her 2002 Isuzu Rodeo during the rainy conditions on Wednesday just before 1 p.m., just north of Old Morro Road West when for an unknown reason her vehicle went off the roadway and down a grassy embankment. The driver side of the Isuzu collided with a tree and Andarzagerber, who was not wearing her seatbelt, was partially ejected. She sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. The southbound lane of SR-41 was closed from 12:50 to 3:15 p.m. as emergency personnel worked on the incident and investigation.
There was a solo vehicle traffic collision on Northbound Highway 101, north of SR-58 Thursday morning. The vehicle hydroplaned and lost control, spun several times hit an embankment and rolled over.
Several disabled vehicles and some road damage caused major traffic delays on Thursday morning on San Marcos Rd. in San Miguel. Caltrans District 5 reported that the road was cleared two hours later. CHP reported that the vehicles blocking the road appeared to have flat tires.
Mudslides and rock slides
Several mudslides and rockslides hit the North County starting Wednesday.
A mudslide on Highway 46 West caused one lane to be blocked. Highway 1 at Ragged Point was also “completely blocked and it’s unknown when it will be open,” said California Hwy Patrol Office Patrick Seebart.
California Hwy Patrol also reported on their Twitter page Thursday morning that a road closure on Santa Rosa Creek Road between Highway 46 in Cambria was closed due to a mudslide. County Public Works cleared the slide by 1:47 p.m.
A mudslide also blocked the westbound lanes of Peachy Canyon Road near 1230 Peachy Canyon Road Thursday morning.
CHP received reports of slides and flooding on the grade at South El Pomar Road, east of Homestead on Thursday morning.
Parts of Templeton were flooding and several roads were closed due to rising waters. Salinas Avenue was closed on Thursday between Hawley and Eddy Street per reports from County Public Works but reopened a little after 3 p.m. Santa Rita Road was also closed between Raymond Avenue in Templeton and Old Creek Road in Cayucos due flooding. Some residents of those neighborhoods weren’t able to leave their homes until the water subsided.
Halcon Road in Atascadero was closed at the Salinas river crossing Thursday afternoon due to flooding, per CHP and the City of Atascadero.
CHP and County Public Works also responded to Highway 46 west due to mud and rocks in the roadway Thursday afternoon.
CHP responded to a mudslide that was “covering half of the road” on Linne Road and Penman Spring Road Thursday afternoon, CHP reported. CHP also reported mud on the road on G-14 near Chimney Rock Road.
Portions Marchant Avenue, Santa Barbara Road and Los Palos Road in Atascadero also flooded but were expected to be fully re-opened by Friday, according to the City of Atascadero.
San Gabriel Road was down to one lane between San Marcos Road and Escondido Road and Llano Road at Corriente Road was also down to one lane. The walking path along Morro Road was also underwater.