Sinkholes swallow cars as torrential rain batters California – and another powerful storm is coming

US

Sinkholes have swallowed cars as powerful storms batter California – with floodwaters engulfing towns and killing at least 17 people.

Two motorists had to be rescued after falling into the sinkhole on a street in Los Angeles, leaving them trapped in their vehicles.

Back-to-back storms have wreaked havoc in the US state since 26 December – with millions of people under flood warnings and more than 200,000 homes and businesses without power.

CalTrans workers chip away at a huge boulder that fell on Malibu Canyon Road in Malibu, California
Image:
Workers chip away at a huge boulder that fell on Malibu Canyon Road in Malibu, California

More rain is forecast to arrive later today in northern California, with a longer storm forecast to last from Friday until Tuesday.

And in other developments, a five-year-old boy who was swept away by rising waters has been named as Kyle Roan.

Yesterday, a seven-hour search for the child was called off after only his shoe was recovered by rescuers.

Kyle’s mother was driving a truck when it became stranded in floodwaters near Paso Robles, a small city inland from California’s central coast.

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Officials said bystanders were able to pull the mother out of the truck, but Kyle was swept out of the vehicle and downstream, likely into a river. There was no evacuation order in the area at the time.

San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s spokesperson Tony Cipolla said the area is “still very dangerous” with fast-flowing creeks.

Two others were killed on Tuesday when lightning knocked a tree onto a road in San Joaquin Valley, causing a deadly pileup.

Kyle Doan Pic: AP
Image:
Kyle Doan Pic: AP

‘Mother Nature is not happy with us’

Rockfalls and mudslides have led to roads being shut down and thousands ordered to evacuate their homes.

But an evacuation order in the 10,000-strong town of Montecito – home to celebrities including Harry and Meghan as well as Oprah Winfrey – has now been lifted.

On Monday, Ellen DeGeneres posted a video on Instagram from near her home beside a rushing river.

She said: “This is crazy. We are having unprecedented rain. This creek near to our house never flows ever [and it’s] probably about 9ft up.

“It could go another 2ft up. We have horses ready to evacuate. We need to be nicer to Mother Nature, because Mother Nature is not happy with us.”

The evacuation order came on the fifth anniversary of a mudslide that killed 23 people and destroyed more than 100 homes in 2018.

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‘Yikes!’ Ellen DeGeneres shows floods

‘Strap up my boots and not give up’

The blustery weather has left the large homeless population in California in a precarious situation. At least one homeless person has died, and more than a dozen people were rescued from an encampment on the Ventura River.

Theo Harris, who has been living on the streets of San Francisco since getting out of jail in 2016, fortified his shelter with tarpaulin and cable ties and took in his girlfriend after her tent flooded.

“The wind has been treacherous, but you just got to bundle up and make sure you stay dry,” Mr Harris said.

“Rain is part of life. It’s going to be sunny. It’s going to rain. I just got to strap my boots up and not give up.”

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