An already-drenched California continued being inundated with even more rain Tuesday as yet another storm pummeled the Golden State, flooding roads, triggering mudslides and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
The National Weather Service warned rain was expected to continue through Tuesday after dumping up to 14 inches in central and Southern California.
After a brief lull, another storm was expected to slam the state in a few days’ time, saturating areas already on the verge of flooding.
Cellphone videos shared online by residents documented the chaos that was wrought by the latest storm, with trees being felled by mudflows, water from a swollen creek rushing through a neighborhood, and a man paddle-boarding in the middle of a flooded street.
The death toll from the string of storms that began last week climbed to 14 Monday, after two people, including a homeless person, were killed by falling trees, state officials said.
A 5-year-old boy vanished in floodwaters on the central coast. The boy’s mother was driving a truck when it became stranded in floodwaters near Paso Robles.
Bystanders managed to pull her free but the child was swept out of the truck and carried away, probably into a river, said Tom Swanson, assistant chief of the Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo County Fire Department.
A roughly seven-hour search for the missing boy, who was not named, turned up only his shoe before officials called it off as water levels were too dangerous for divers, officials said. The boy had not been declared dead.
The weather service issued a flood watch through Tuesday for the entire San Francisco Bay Area, along with Sacramento Valley and Monterey Bay. Areas hit by wildfires in recent years faced the possibility of mud and debris slewing off hillsides devoid of vegetation.
“Additional heavy rains on Tuesday will exacerbate ongoing flooding and continue the risk of flash flooding and mudslides, especially across recent burn scar regions,” the weather service said.
Forecasters also warned southwestern California could see 60-mph wind gusts at the peak of the storm, while some areas could receive rainfall of a half-inch per hour.
Evacuation orders were issued in Santa Cruz County for about 32,000 residents living near rain-swollen rivers and creeks. The San Lorenzo River was declared at flood stage and drone footage showed numerous homes sitting in muddy brown water, the top halves of cars peeking out.
About 130 miles to the south, about 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate in Santa Barbara County.
The entire wealthy seaside community of Montecito — home to the likes of Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey, Elle DeGeneres and Jennifer Aniston — was ordered to flee on the fifth anniversary of a mudslide that killed 23 people and destroyed more than 100 homes in the exclusive enclave.
“This is crazy,” DeGeneres said in a video she recorded while standing next to a raging creek flowing past her house, which she shares with her wife, Portia de Rossi. “We need to be nicer to Mother Nature because Mother Nature’s not happy with us.”
The TV host and her spouse were sheltering in place on the orders of local officials Monday because their house is on higher ground.
County officials ordered 20 homes evacuated in the area of Orcutt after flooding and a sinkhole damaged up to 15 homes.
Jamie McLeod’s property was under the Montecito evacuation order, but she said there was no way for her to “get off the mountain” with a rushing creek on one side and a mudslide on the other.
The 60-year-old owner of the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary said one of her employees came to make a weekly food delivery and also became stuck.
McLeod said she feels fortunate because her home sits on high ground and the power is still on. But she tires of the frequent evacuation orders since the massive wildfire followed by the deadly landslide five years ago.
“It is not easy to relocate,” McLeod said. “I totally love it, except in catastrophe.”
Some miles down the coast another town, La Conchita in Ventura County, was ordered evacuated. A mudslide killed 10 people there in 2005.
In Ventura County, the Ventura River reached its highest level on record at more than 25 feet. Firefighters using a ladder and rope system, boats and helicopters rescued more than a dozen people from a homeless encampment who found themselves trapped on an island in the surging waters.
The storm also washed 3 feet of mud and rock onto State Highway 126, stranding a long line of cars and big-rig trucks. Crews worked into the night to pull them free.
In Los Angeles, a sinkhole swallowed two cars in the Chatsworth area Monday night. Two people escaped by themselves and firefighters rescued two others who had minor injuries, authorities said.
Tens of thousands of people were without power, including some 17,000 late Monday night in the Sacramento area. The number of customers without service was down from more than 350,000 a day earlier after 60-mph gusts knocked trees into power lines, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District said.
The National Weather Service warned of a “relentless parade of atmospheric rivers” — long plumes of moisture stretching out into the Pacific that can drop staggering amounts of rain and snow.
The precipitation expected over the next couple of days comes after storms last week knocked out power, flooded streets, and battered the coastline.
President Biden issued an emergency declaration Monday to support storm response and relief efforts in more than a dozen counties.
With Post wires