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Deadly Holiday As Storms Sweep U.S.

February 22, 2000

Winter storms pounded California and the Ohio Valley during the long holiday weekend, causing mudslides, wind damage and flooding that was blamed for five deaths.

One of the victims was a woman who became trapped in her submerged car Monday about 85 miles southeast of Cincinnati. Authorities said her three children _ ages 4, 6 and 8 _ escaped and were rescued from the water.

``She had apparently pulled around road-closed signs and barricades, and her car was caught in high water on the road,″ said Ohio state Trooper Harold Fraley.

Near Middleport, Ohio, a man died when his boat overturned in high water on a road.

At Cincinnati, the Ohio River was holding steady this morning at 2 1/2 feet above the 52-foot flood stage and was expected to begin slowly receding, the National Weather Service said.

In Southern California, a powerful storm Monday flooded streets and sent mud and water flowing off a burned area of the San Gabriel Mountains above suburban Arcadia. Little property damage was reported there.

Anaheim residents said high wind damaged 25 houses, city spokesman Bret Colson said.

The California Highway Patrol was swamped by accidents on wet highways and two traffic deaths were reported in Los Angeles. Firefighters in Los Angeles had to rescue a dozen motorists from high water.

``It just kind of hit too hard, too fast,″ CHP Officer Rosa Ray said.

West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood extended a state of emergency to a total of 21 counties after weekend flooding.

Three people died Friday during a rescue attempt when an inflatable boat capsized on a swollen creek near Charleston, W.Va. The body of Betty Huffman, 56, of Clendenin, was found Sunday downstream in the Ohio River, about 140 miles away. The bodies of the two others were recovered earlier.

A 91-mile stretch of the Monongahela River also flooded during the weekend between the West Virginia state line and Pittsburgh, and several hundred homes had to be evacuated. Most people returned home by Sunday night.

And flooding in eastern Kentucky destroyed at least 48 homes in Greenup and Lewis counties, said Rod Hickey, a Red Cross spokesman.

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