Historic storm sends debris through LA’s Hollywood Hills, leaves 1.1 million without power

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LOS ANGELES: A storm of historic proportions dumped a record amount of rain over parts of Los Angeles on Monday, sending mud and boulders down hillsides dotted with multimillion-dollar homes while people living in homeless encampments in many parts of the city scrambled for safety.

More than one million people statewide were without power.

The storm was the second one fueled by an atmospheric river to hit the state over the span of days.

About 2.5 million people in the Los Angeles area, including the Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills, were under a flash flood warning. Up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain had already fallen in the area, with more expected, according to the National Weather Service, which called the flash flooding and threat of mudslides “a particularly dangerous situation.”

Already crews were rescuing people from swift-moving water in various parts of Southern California, including two homeless people who were evacuated Monday from a small island in the Santa Ana River in San Bernardino, about 55 miles (88.51 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, authorities said.

Gushing rivers carried mud, rocks and household objects downhill as floodwaters coursed through Studio City, an area on the backside of the Hollywood Hills.

Sixteen Studio City residents were evacuated and two homes were damaged, city officials said.

“It looks like a river that’s been here for years,” said Keki Mingus, whose neighbors’ homes were damaged. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The Los Angeles Fire Department said 1,000 firefighters were contending with 49 debris flows, 130 reports of flooding, half a dozen structure fires and several rescues of motorists stranded in vehicles.

Drake Livingston who lives in the Beverly Crest neighborhood, was watching a movie around midnight when a friend alerted him to flooding.

“We looked outside and there’s a foot-and-a-half of running water, and it starts seeping through the doors,” Livingston said.

Livingston scrambled to save some possessions but eventually had to retreat to a neighbor’s house. In the morning, Livingston’s car was submerged in several feet of mud.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass urged residents to avoid driving, warning of fallen trees and electrical lines on flooded roadways.

Over 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) of rain has fallen in the Santa Monica Mountains. Los Angeles Fire Chief Kristin Crowley said hazards will continue to be a threat in areas around recent wildfire burn scars, noting that rain is forecast to continue into Tuesday.

A record 4.1 inches (10.41 centimeters) of rain fell Sunday in downtown Los Angeles, making it the 10th wettest day on record, the National Weather Service said. That’s more rain than the area typically gets for the entire month.

That didn’t stop the Grammy Awards on Sunday night from continuing as planned at downtown’s Crypto.com Arena.

The weather service forecast up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rainfall across Southern California’s coastal and valley areas, with 14 inches (35 centimeters) possible in the foothills and mountains over the next two days.

Commuters stepped through several inches of floodwater on Monday morning as they rushed to catch trains at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

The storm over the weekend inundated streets and brought down trees and electrical lines throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, while the weather service issued a rare “hurricane force wind warning” for the Central Coast. Several people had to be rescued from rising floodwaters, including those in cars and others living in a homeless encampments.

In Yuba City, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, police said they were investigating the death of a man found under a big redwood tree in his backyard Sunday evening. A neighbor heard the tree fall, and it was possible the man was using a ladder to try and clear the redwood when he was killed, police said on Facebook.

In Southern California, off the coast of Long Beach, 19 people were rescued Sunday after the 40-foot sailboat they were traveling in lost its mast, said Brian Fisk, a firefighter and paramedic for the Long Beach Fire Department.

Another vessel heard the distress call on the marine radio and helped rescue eight people while 11 were able to get onto the rocky breakwater by Alamitos Bay where they were rescued by lifeguards, he said. One person was treated for injuries.

“They went out sailing in gale-force winds and stormy weather,” Fisk said. “They’re very, very lucky.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for most counties in coastal Southern California and said emergency resources were ready, while emergency shelters were opened.

Most public schools in Los Angeles were open, though other districts called off classes.

Heavy snow was falling throughout the Sierra Nevada and motorists were urged to avoid mountain roads.

Much of the state was still drying out from the initial atmospheric river-powered storm that blew in last week. Atmospheric rivers are relatively narrow plumes of moisture that form over an ocean and can produce torrential amounts of rain as they move over land.

Both atmospheric rivers were called a “Pineapple Express” because they originated near Hawaii.

Since last winter, 46 atmospheric rivers have made landfall on the US West Coast, pulling the state out of a yearslong drought, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes. Nine were categorized as strong, two were extreme and one was exceptional.