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Flood fears renewed as another storm takes aim at California

Flood water crosses over Interstate 5 at Williams backing up traffic in both north and southbound lanes for hours on Feb. 18, 2017 in Williams, Calif.

Randy Pench/The Sacramento Bee via AP

Residents returning to homes damaged by flooding should be prepared to evacuate again as yet another powerful Pacific storm takes aim at Northern California, officials warned Sunday.

The San Joaquin River was reaching flood stage, and residents of Manteca were told to be ready to evacuate in case it hit dangerous levels.

Meanwhile, the water level was decreasing at Lake Oroville dam, where a damaged spillway had raised major flood concerns.

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Water was also receding in the farm community of Maxwell, where dozens of people sought higher ground after creeks topped their banks and inundated houses on Friday, said Colusa County Assistant Sheriff Jim Saso said.

Nobody was hurt as crews used boats to rescue residents from a low-lying neighbourhood.

"We're telling those people to keep a bag close by and get ready to leave again," Saso said. "If the water comes back up, it's going to be those areas affected."

Another round of heavy rain was expected to move in later Sunday and forecasters said several inches were expected.

"Widespread flooding will be likely as an atmospheric river (of moisture) takes aim somewhere along the central California coast," the National Weather Service said.

The damage to the spillway at Lake Oroville forced the evacuation of 188,000 people last weekend.

The California Department of Water Resources, however, said Sunday that the water level continues to fall even as they decrease the amount of water flowing down the spillway.

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The amount of water flowing down the spillway has been reduced to 55,000 cubic feet a second. Earlier this week, outflows were at nearly 100,000 cubic feet per second.

During recent storms, authorities up and down the state have dealt with overflowing creeks, mudslide threats in foothill areas blackened by fires, road collapses and hundreds of toppled trees in neighbourhoods. At least three deaths have occurred.

Most of Southern California appeared to dodge any major disasters in heavy rain on Friday. But in the desert town of Victorville, several cars were washed down a flooded street and one man was found dead in a submerged vehicle after others were rescued, authorities said.

In the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, a man was electrocuted when a tree falling in heavy rain downed power lines that hit his car.

On Saturday, searchers found the body of a man in his 20s who was swept down a rain-swollen gully in Thousand Oaks a day earlier. Three other people stranded by the water were rescued.

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