As another strong storm hit California on Monday, a 5-year-old boy was swept away by floodwaters on the state’s central coast. On the fifth anniversary of the deadly mudslides there, the entire seaside community where Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey, and other celebrities live was told to leave.
Tens of thousands of people still didn’t have electricity, and some schools were closed for the day. Streets and highways turned into raging rivers, trees fell, mud slid, and drivers got angry when they hit roadblocks caused by fallen trees and other objects. State officials said Monday that two people were killed by falling trees, bringing the total number of people killed by the storms to 14.
The missing boy was looked after for about seven hours, but only his shoe was found before the search was called off because the water was too dangerous for divers. Tony Cipolla, a spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, said that the boy has not been said to be dead.
Tom Swanson, assistant chief of the Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo County Fire Department, said that the boy’s mother was driving a truck that got stuck in floodwaters around 8 a.m. near Paso Robles, a small city inland from California’s central coast.
Swanson said that bystanders were able to pull the mother out of the truck, but the boy was swept out of the truck and likely into a river as he was carried downstream. At the time, there was no order to leave the area.
About 130 miles (209 kilometers) to the south, the whole town of Montecito and the canyons around it were told to leave because of recent wildfires. The order came on the fifth anniversary of a mudslide that killed 23 people and destroyed more than 100 homes in the coastal enclave.
On Monday night, a sinkhole in the Chatsworth neighborhood of Los Angeles ate up two cars. Two people got out on their own, and two others with minor injuries were saved by firefighters using ropes and an aerial ladder.
The National Weather Service said that it was raining at a rate of one inch (2.5 centimeters) per hour, and heavy rain was expected all night in an affluent area where roads wind up and down wooded hills with big houses. Montecito is wedged between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Rob Lowe and Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, both live there.
Ellen DeGeneres posted a video of herself on Instagram standing in front of a rushing creek near the house she shares with actor wife Portia de Rossi in Montecito. She wrote in the post that they had been told to stay put because they were on higher ground. “This is ridiculous!” In the video, the talk show host, who is wearing a hoodie and an umbrella, says. “This creek right next to our house never ever flows. It’s probably about 9 feet high and will go up another 2 feet.”
The Montecito evacuation order included Jamie McLeod’s property, but she said she can’t “get off the mountain” because there is a rushing creek on one side and a mudslide on the other. The owner of the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary, who is 60 years old, said that a worker who came to make a weekly food delivery is also stuck.
McLeod said she feels lucky because her house is on high ground and the power is still on. But she said she’s tired of being told to leave her home so often since the big fire and deadly landslide five years ago. “It’s not easy to move,” McLeod said. “I love it a lot, except when things go wrong.”
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said that almost 10,000 people had to leave their homes because it was still raining hard and there was no sign that it would stop before nightfall. There was too much water in the creeks, and many roads were flooded.
The northbound lanes of U.S. 101, a key coastal route, were expected to be closed until Tuesday. Flooding and rock slides closed a lot of other highways and local roads. Up the coast, about 32,000 people in Santa Cruz County were told to leave their homes because of flooded rivers and creeks. The San Lorenzo River was said to be at flood stage, and footage from a drone showed a lot of houses sitting in muddy brown water with the tops of cars sticking out.
Maria Cucchiara, who lives in small, flooded Felton, went for a walk to think about how lucky she was after “a huge branch harpooned” the roof of her small studio. “I have two cats, and they and I could have died. She said, “It weighed more than a ton.” “So it goes without saying that it was very scary.”
Nicole Martin, who owns the Fern River Resort in Felton, said that Monday was a more relaxed day. She said that her customers were drinking coffee among tall redwood trees and “enjoying the show” as picnic tables and other trash floated down the swollen San Lorenzo River. Martin said that the river is usually about 60 feet (18 meters) below the cabins, but it moved up to be only 12 feet (4 meters) away from the cabins.
Several school districts in Northern California closed their schools, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District said that more than 35,000 customers were still without power. This was down from more than 350,000 a day earlier when wind gusts of 60 mph (97 kph) knocked beautiful trees into power lines. A homeless person in the area was killed by a falling tree on Monday. This was one of the new deaths that were reported.
The National Weather Service warned of a “never-ending parade of atmospheric rivers.” These are long plumes of moisture that stretch out into the Pacific and can drop huge amounts of rain and snow. The rain that is expected over the next few days comes after storms last week knocked out power, flooded streets, and beat up the coast.
Monday, President Joe Biden called a state of emergency in more than a dozen counties that were affected by storms. The weather service put out a flood watch for a large part of Northern and Central California. From 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain are expected in the already wet foothills around Sacramento through Wednesday.
In the foothills of the Los Angeles area, it could have rained as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) on Monday night and Tuesday. The waves were also going to be high. Even though the storms have helped fill up empty reservoirs, much of California is still in a severe to extreme drought.
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