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New Storms Could Turn Monterey Peninsula Into an Island

New Storms Could Turn Monterey Peninsula Into an Island

New Storms Could Turn Monterey Peninsula Into an Island

Capitola Pier just north of Monterey, California, suffers severe damage in latest round of storms

California prepares for the next round of epic storms and flooding.

(CNN) – Monterey Peninsula residents could soon be living on an island as mammoth flooding threatens to cut them off from the rest of California.

The state has been hammered by a cascade of atmospheric rivers – long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that can carry moisture thousands of miles.

At least 18 people have died, neighborhoods have turned into lakes, and countless homes have been destroyed as a string of storms toppled trees and paralyzed communities over the past two weeks.

But a sliver of good news emerged Thursday: The nearly relentless rainfall has lifted much of California out of "extreme drought" conditions.

And many walloped communities are getting a brief respite from brutal weather Thursday. But cities are still inundated – and more storms are on the way.

‘Monterey Peninsula may become an island’

Just south of the San Francisco Bay Area, cities including Monterey, Carmel, and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula could soon be severed from the rest of California due to epic floodwater.

“If anyone was here in 1995, you know that during a large flooding event, the Monterey Peninsula became an island – people were either stuck on one side or the other,” Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto warned Wednesday evening.

“And we anticipate that we’re going to go into a similar situation, but not as bad. Some of the roadways are going to be closed, and you could be stuck on one side or the other.”

The sheriff’s office upgraded evacuation warnings to evacuation orders Wednesday in low-lying areas near the Salinas River.

“Monterey Peninsula may become an island again like it did in the '95 floods, so please start preparing now,” the sheriff warned.

Nieto said it could be days before residents are allowed to return home, as crews need to make sure the area is safe.

Officials urge residents to stay off roads

The recent storms have crippled travel and left dozens of highways inoperable.

At least 40 state routes were closed as of Wednesday night, state transportation spokesman Will Arnold said.

“We’re asking the public: If you don't need to be on the roadways, please stay home and avoid any non-essential trips,” Arnold said.

Over 100 National Guard members were in San Luis Obispo County searching for missing 5-year-old Kyle Doan after he was swept away from a vehicle surrounded by floodwater on Monday.

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