La Jornada – Rains in California leave 14 dead; evict city of millionaires

Montecito, US. Heavy rains are expected on Tuesday in California where severe storms have killed 14 people and prompted evacuations of many areas, including the wealthy town of Montecito, home to Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle.

“Winter storms have killed 14 Californians, or more than the wildfires of the past two years,” California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said in a statement.

“Several days of bad weather await us,” added the note urging people to be “hypervigilant.”

In Paso Robles, a small town between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a 5-year-old boy disappeared after being swept away by the current Monday, local media reported, citing the sheriff’s office.

The region is expecting heavy rain, thunderstorms and very strong winds for Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Emergency authorities in Montecito, 90 minutes from Los Angeles, urged to leave the area.

“LEAVE NOW! This is a rapidly evolving situation. Pay close attention to emergency alerts,” the fire department said on its website.

The city with multi-million dollar properties is especially vulnerable to landslides. It sits at the foot of a mountain range that was the scene of a fire five years ago that burned hundreds of square miles, stripping the slopes of the vegetation that normally holds the ground firm.

TV host Ellen DeGeneres posted a video on Twitter of a raging stream of brown water. “It’s crazy,” she told her followers.

“The creek by our house never flows. It’s probably about nine feet (2.7 meters) high, and it’s going to go up another two feet (more than half a meter).”

It was not clear how many of the town’s residents, who also include Larry David, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry and Rob Lowe, complied with the order to evacuate.

Celebrities on alert

Actress Jennifer Aniston and television host Oprah Winfrey, among others, own homes valued at millions of dollars in Montecito.

Spokesmen for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not respond to a request for comment.

The area was expected to receive up to 200 millimeters of rain in 24 hours.

In the past 30 days, Montecito received rainfall “well above our annual average,” firefighters said on Twitter.

Five years ago, landslides triggered by heavy rainfall left 23 dead in the city.

Police set up barricades to prevent access to the city, where several roads were completely flooded, an AFP journalist noted.

harassed localities

That area is not the only one where evacuations have been ordered.

In Santa Cruz County, near San Francisco, more than 30,000 residents were also ordered out.

Several areas suffered near record rainfall in recent days. Grounds are completely waterlogged and the Weather Service has issued flood advisories for much of California.

Some 220,000 homes were without electricity on Tuesday morning, according to the specialized site PowerOutage.

Although it is difficult to establish a direct relationship between storms and climate change, scientists say that global warming increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

Last week’s storm left tens of thousands of people without power, caused severe flooding and triggered landslides. It came just days after another deluge of rain on New Year’s Eve.

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