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J.L. Sousa, Register 

One of the many unique items available at Jackie's Consignments. New owner Ryan Graham purchased the business at the beginning of this year.

Atmospheric River
Storm drops as much as 9 inches on Napa County, with road closures and the flood bypass filling

Dawn came to Napa Valley Tuesday with streams roaring and the Napa River beginning to spill into the flood bypass in downtown Napa. By Tuesday night, the city was warning residents that the river would pass the 25-foot flood stage in the early hours of Wednesday.

The river was expected to pass the flood stage around 8 p.m. Tuesday and peak at about 27 feet between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The city asked people to monitor conditions if they live or work in low-lying areas such as: Lincoln Avenue, west of the river; Soscol Avenue at Lincoln, near the bypass; Lake Park neighborhood; Taylor Street neighborhood; South Coombs Street near Imola Avenue.

Central Napa got 2 inches of rain as of late Tuesday afternoon, but some of the higher elevations got substantially more. Mount Veeder registered nearly 9 inches, while Angwin received over 6 inches, according to county gauges. Many Upvalley locations reported 5 inches.

The National Weather Service issued a small stream flood advisory warning for Napa County through 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, and urged people to avoid flooded roads.

Unlike Sonoma County where the rising Russian River was expected to cause major flooding, Napa emergency officials said no significant damage was expected here.

The Napa River had began spilling into the bypass early Tuesday. What started as a trickle was expected to become a torrent, with the river peaking about 9 a.m. Wednesday, some 2 feet above flood stage, according to the California Nevada River Forecast Center.

If the prediction proves correct, the river would be expected to leave its bank on the east side, south of Trancas Street, where there is little development.

Lake Berryessa is now full, with water beginning to spill to its siphon, the Glory Hole, Tuesday. The lake last filled two years ago.

Napa County reported the closure of Oakville Cross Road, Lodi Lane between Highway 29 and Silverado Trail, Big Ranch Road at Salvador Avenue, Washington Street south of Yountville and Ragatz Lane. Also, Highway 121 was closed at Schellville in Sonoma County.

The California Highway Patrol reported some fender-benders, but no serious traffic accidents.

PG&E reported outages in the North Bay affecting a total of 161 customers in Marin and Napa counties as of 1:45 p.m. Customers in Angwin, Napa, Pope Valley and St. Helena were among those affected.

The utility said it fully staffed its Napa storm response center in order to make local repairs more quickly. PG&E encourages customers to stay away from and report downed power lines.

The forecast called for Napa to receive another 1 to 2 inches Tuesday night, with showers expected Wednesday. Wind gusts as high as 36 mph were expected Tuesday night.

The city of Napa announced Tuesday morning that the following areas were closed to the public due to the possibility of flooding: Trancas Crossing, Oxbow Preserve, China Point Park, Oxbow Commons, Main Street Boat Dock, Stanly Lane Trail, Hennessey Boat Launch, Trancas Street to Lincoln Avenue on the River Trail, and the pedestrian bridge above Salvador Creek in Garfield Park.

City crews will evaluate whether the areas should be reopened after the storm passes.

Sonoma County was hit harder by the storm. The Alexander Valley Unified School District, Geyserville Unified School District, Montgomery Elementary School District in Cazadero and Guerneville School District were closed because of flooding on bus routes, county officials said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office late Tuesday morning said people living near the Russian River should evacuate. The river was forecast to go far above the flood stage of 32 feet at 7 p.m. Tuesday and reach 45.9 feet at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Mystery of American Canyon's abandoned destroyer is solved

The mystery of how the skeleton of a Navy destroyer ended up wasting away for decades in Napa River muck near American Canyon is solved.

Napa resident Bill Clarke, age 95, knows the story of the USS Corry’s fate from his boyhood. He decided to share the tale after reading last week’s article in the Napa Valley Register about the destroyer.

The rusting, hole-ridden hulk is located along the city’s wetlands area near Slaughterhouse Point. How it got there and why appeared to be questions that could no longer be answered with the passing of decades – until Clarke answered them.

His three uncles farmed the Tule ranch along the Napa River during the 1930s. A group of Oakland police officers and a man from Eureka owned the property and used it for hunting and fishing, Clarke said.

“They used to maintain the levee there,” Clarke said. “It was very costly dredging and building it up every year.”

Meanwhile, the 314-foot-long USS Corry had been scrapped at nearby Mare Island Naval Shipyard even though it was only a decade old. The ship was a victim of the 1930 London Naval Treaty that limited the size of the fleets of the major powers.

The Tule ranch landowners decided the remains of a destroyer stripped of its superstructure could be a viable levee buttress. All they had to do was buy the Corry and have it hauled to what would be its final resting place.

“They brought it up at high tide and pushed that thing into the shore there,” Clarke said. “They idea was they wanted to stop the erosion at that point there.”

Clarke, then about 10 years old, didn’t see the Corry arrive at the Tule ranch. But he wasn’t long in going out to climb aboard what amounted to a dream play structure for a kid.

“The first chance I had, I got into a rowboat and rowed down there,” he said. “I had to check it out. On the lower deck, it went all the way through the ship. At that time, you could walk all the way through. Down on the lower part, there were some steel bulkheads.”

Even though the remains of the Corry were hard to reach, some people found their way.

“There were a lot of metal ladders,” Clarke said. “Everybody and their cousin were down there taking the ladders off the thing for their own use.”

Jim Kern is a historian at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum who recently offered a history hike in the American Canyon wetlands about the Corry. Clarke’s story rings true to him.

“It’s from the direct source of someone who was there at the time,” Kern said. “His family lived there and farmed it. It sounds like he has the answer.”

Kern said an Oakland scrap metal company obtained the Corry from the Navy after it had been decommissioned. It’s unclear precisely how the owners of the American Canyon property ended up with it, though some of them were from Oakland.

“It’s the Oakland connection that intrigues me,” Kern said.

The USS Corry was launched in 1921 and scrapped in 1930, so it missed both World War I and World War II. However, it made a small contribution to the World War II cause, if only indirectly.

Basalt Rock Co. had a Napa River shipyard during the World War II at the site of today’s Napa Pipe property, a few miles north of the destroyer. Clarke said the company needed steel plates and cut the front section off of the Corry.

He hasn’t been out to the Corry for many a year, Clarke said.

At one time, the Corry was more easily accessible by foot. David Davis is among the many who visited it.

“As young man from the age of 9 to 15 years old back in 1969, we walked weekly to the old destroyer,” said Davis, who now lives in Washington. “We hiked from Napa Square and walked from the end of Marla Drive, American Canyon. We played on it and explored the empty rooms. We would fish from the bow second level.”

Today, the Corry is still visited by boaters and kayakers.

The USS Corry was named after Lt. Cmdr. William M. Corry, who commanded naval air stations during World War I. The actions that posthumously won him the Medal of Honor came after the war.

Corry and another pilot were involved in a plane crash in October 1920 near Hartford, Connecticut. Thrown from the wreckage, the injured Corry pulled the other officer from the flaming aircraft. Corry died shortly thereafter from burns, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.

He has had three Navy destroyers named after him, with the one wasting away near American Canyon being the first. A second Corry destroyer was launched in 1941 and was sunk on D-Day. A third Corry destroyer was launched in 1945 and served the Navy until 1981.

Napa exceeds city’s 8-year housing permit target halfway through cycle

Napa has met its state-required goal for permitting new housing with four years to spare – and added its first significant sum of less-expensive dwellings to its total.

The city in 2018 granted building permits for 591 residential units, bringing its total to 871 halfway through an eight-year cycle, staff members told the Planning Commission on Thursday. This total exceeds the goal of 835 dwellings.

Sixty-eight of the housing permits Napa issued last year were for dwellings affordable to those earning less than the Napa median – 53 for households on very low incomes and another 15 reserved for low-income families, according to senior planner Michael Walker.

Two affordable housing developments accounted for those totals: the 50-unit Stoddard West apartments off Soscol Avenue, and the 20-unit Napa Courtyards at 535 Coombsville Road east of downtown.

The city still needs an additional 355 affordable units by 2023 to meet its goals under its allocation, which is broken down into categories for very low incomes (less than 50 percent of the local median), low (below 80 percent), moderate (80 to 120 percent) and above-moderate (more than 120 percent) incomes. Remaining needs include 132 units attainable at very low incomes, 84 at low incomes and 139 at moderate incomes.

Since Napa’s current housing cycle began in 2015, city records indicate it had issued nine building permits for affordable housing before the start of 2018, although various multifamily developments gained approval during that time. Permit issues for non-subsidized housing totaled 248 during those three years.

New permits for market-rate construction in 2018 covered projects such as The Braydon, a development west of Soscol Avenue’s auto showroom corridor that will include at least 282 rental apartments and possibly more in later phases.

Under California’s regional housing needs allocation program, local communities must plan on adding a set number of homes over eight-year periods. In the Bay Area, the Association of Bay Area Governments has spread a commitment to 187,990 dwellings across nine counties, with Napa County assigned 1,482 housing units.