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California faces prospect of more storms with 14 dead so far


California saw no relief from its downpours early Tuesday, as the latest storm in a relentless string of storms continued to flood roads and hit the coast with high waves, turning rivers into swathes of land. flooding and forced the evacuation of thousands of people in towns with a history of deadly landslides. At least 14 people have died since the storms began last week.

The storm led to several tornado warnings early Tuesday and is also expected to bring heavy snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains a day after pouring up to 36 centimeters of rain at higher elevations in the country. central and southern California.

After a brief respite, another storm is expected to hit the state starting Wednesday, adding further misery and saturation to already at-risk areas. floods and debris flows. It could bring enough rain to exacerbate ongoing flooding and increase the risk of landslides, weather forecasters say.

Forecasters also warned southwestern California could see gusts of 97 km/h at the storm’s peak, while some areas could see 13 mm/h of rain.

The death toll increased

The storms have so far threatened coastal and riverside towns, leaving more than 200,000 homes and businesses without power early Tuesday, according to website poweroutage.us, which tracks utility reports. . The weather service has issued flood warnings through Tuesday for the entire San Francisco Bay Area, along with the Sacramento Valley and Monterey Bay. Areas that have been hit by wildfires in recent years have faced the possibility of mud and debris sliding off bare hillsides that have yet to fully recover their protective vegetation.

State officials said the death toll from storms that began last week rose from 12 to 14 on Monday, after two people including a homeless person were killed by fallen trees.

People are shown carrying or rolling things.
People carry their belongings to an evacuation center in Santa Barbara, California, on Monday night. (Ringo HW Chiu/The Associated Press)

A five-year-old boy disappeared in flood water Monday on the central coast. The boy’s mother was driving a truck when it got stuck near Paso Robles. Tom Swanson, assistant superintendent of the Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo County Fire Department, said bystanders tried to pull her out, but the boy was swept out of the truck and swept away, possibly falling. down the river.

California state highway authorities said Monday night that parts of U.S. and state highways were closed because of flooding, mud or rock slides, heavy snow or vehicle turns and accidents. vans.

Evacuation orders were issued in Santa Cruz County for approximately 32,000 residents living near rivers and creeks flooded by rainwater. The San Lorenzo River has been declared at flood stage, and drone footage shows many homes submerged in murky brown water, the top half of cars peeking out.

‘Not easy to relocate’

Officials said the search for the 5-year-old boy, which lasted about seven hours, was canceled because the water levels were too dangerous for divers. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla said the boy has not been declared dead.

About 210 kilometers south, about 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate in Santa Barbara County.

VIEW | Many Californians experience suffering overnight:

California hurricane prompts evacuation orders north of LA

Heavy rain and flooding in Montecito, Calif., north of Los Angeles, prompted officials to order the evacuation of entire communities.

The entire coastal community of Montecito – home to Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities – was ordered to evacuate, while for about an hour, northern county officials ordered the evacuation of 20 homes. in the Orcutt area after flooding and a sinkhole damaged 15 homes.

Jamie McLeod’s property is on an evacuation order in Montecito, but she says there’s no way for her to “get down the mountain” with a fast-flowing stream on one side and a landslide on the other. The 60-year-old owner of the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary said one of her employees came to deliver food weekly and was also stuck.

“It’s not easy to relocate,” says McLeod. “I absolutely love it [here]except in disaster.”

A few miles off the coast, another town, La Conchita in Ventura County, was ordered to evacuate. A landslide killed 10 people there in 2005.

In Ventura County, the Ventura River reached its highest recorded level of more than eight meters on Monday. Firefighters used helicopters to rescue more than a dozen people stranded on an island in rising waters. The water level quickly dropped to a minor flood level during the night.

In Los Angeles, a sinkhole swallowed two cars in the Chatsworth area on Monday night. Two people managed to get out on their own and firefighters rescued two others with minor injuries, authorities said.

US President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration on Monday to support hurricane response and relief efforts in more than a dozen counties, a move welcomed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Overall, much of California is in a state of severe to extreme drought, although hurricanes have helped fill depleted reservoirs.

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