The strongest storm to hit Southern California in several years has brought torrential rain, flash flooding and powerful winds to the area.
Santa Ana police officers rescued a mother and her 8-year-old child after they fell into the Santa Ana River on Saturday afternoon, as well as a man who had jumped in to try and save them, police said.
Police were called around 12:30 p.m. to the area of the riverbed by 1st Street, which had filled after the weekend's powerful storm. They saw three people in the middle of the water, Santa Ana police said in a statement. Four officers jumped in and rescued them.
The mother and child were transported to a hospital as a precaution, and the man was treated at the scene.
At the Arroyo Conejo creek in Thousand Oaks, law enforcement officers rescued three men on Friday afternoon who had to scramble to higher ground when water began filling up the arroyo, Ventura County Sheriff’s Det. Tim Lohman said.
Someone near the tennis courts in the park above the arroyo saw the men and called police around 2:45 p.m., Lohman said. Officers from the Thousand Oaks Police Department, the Ventura County Fire Department and the Ventura County Sheriff's Department search-and-rescue and aviation units rescued the three men shortly thereafter, Lohman said.
"During the interview with the subjects, we found out that a fourth person was with them who was swept away by the current in the arroyo," Lohman said.
They searched for the fourth man, in his 20s, until about 8:30 p.m., when they called off the hunt because of weather conditions. Sheriff's aviation officers resumed the search Saturday, and located a man in the river bottom around 8:45 a.m.; they recovered his body around 11:30 a.m., Lohman said.
Law enforcement officials are not identifying the man until his family is notified, Lohman said.
The area is a common hiking spot, but it's closed during extreme weather.
"My only guess ... is that they were down in the arroyo, but what ended up happening is that the water surged so much it made it difficult to get out," Lohman said. "And once the water began to rise it made it difficult for them to get out safely.”
Lohman's advice to hikers is to stay away from moving water, and remember that the trails in Conejo Park are closed during heavy rain.
“When we have two days of rain like we did ... these rivers or washes or arroyos are unpredictable," Lohman said. “This swift water can carry somebody away or sweep them off their feet if they get close enough.”
Utility crews were still working to restore power to about 50,000 Los Angeles residents as of 2 p.m. Saturday.
“There was a lot of wind, there was a lot of downed wires and that kind of operation does take time, ”said L.A. Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Kim Hughes. “We’re working as quickly ... as possible, with safety in mind.”
More than 82,000 LADWP customers were without power when the storm was at its worst on Friday afternoon, according to an LADWP statement. The department expects most of the remaining customers to get their power back in the next 12 to 24 hours, the statement says.
Meanwhile, Amtrak may resume service between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles on Saturday night after the route was closed Saturday morning.
"Due to mudslides and other weather related factors, we have crews out there now removing debris from the tracks," Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Justin Jacobs said in an email. "We will follow up with inspections once debris removal is complete to ensure they are safe to resume operations and then hope to restore service. "
A Studio City sinkhole that two cars fell into Friday night "was probably caused by a combination of excessive rain and a possible sewer failure," according to a statement from the Los Angeles Department of Public Works.
The bureaus of Sanitation, Engineering and Contract Administration removed the cars overnight and started stabilizing the sinkhole on Woodbridge Street at Laurel Canyon Boulevard.
Crews are "working to shore up the sinkhole in order to remove debris, assess the situation, and determine next steps," according to the statement. The repairs may take several days.
The city advises drivers to avoid the area. The following roads are still closed:
- Laurel Canyon Boulevard, between Moorpark Street and Valley Spring Lane
- Woodbridge Street, east of Laurel Canyon
According to an account on the LAFD website, firefighters arrived at the sinkhole and found one car upside down in rushing water. The occupant, a 48-year-old woman, was standing on the car about 10 feet below street level.
Firefighters lowered a 20-foot ladder to her, allowing her to climb out, and took her to a hospital in fair condition. En route, she said that while she was driving, she felt the car pitch to the left, then it tumbled into the sinkhole. The airbags deployed, water started coming in and she tried to raise the windows. She was able to open the door and climb on top of the car, where she screamed for help.
She said she thought she was going to die. Then she heard the firefighters yell back to her.
The driver of the second vehicle was able to escape uninjured before it fell.
The westbound lanes of California 138 are closed for about 11 miles from the Cajon Pass to California 2 in Pinon Hills, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The eastbound side of Highway 138 is closed from Wagon Train Road, near the Cajon Pass, about nine miles to Summit Valley Road.
Eastbound lanes could open Sunday, although it’s unknown when westbound lanes will open, a CHP official said.
Amtrak suspended passenger train service on its Pacific Surfliner route between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo on Saturday morning because of mudslides in the Santa Barbara area.
With heavy rain threatening to send water, mud and debris onto tracks, railroad operators were conducting inspections to make sure it was safe to travel, said Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Justin Jacobs.
There is no alternate Amtrak service between L.A. and San Luis Obispo, and around 3 p.m. Saturday, Jacobs said Union Pacific hoped service would resume Saturday evening.
An Amtrak press release directed passengers to the company's website for its refund and exchange policy.
For the Record
11:56 a.m. Feb. 20: This article has been changed to attribute the news of railroad operators' track inspections and the effect on rail service to Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Justin Jacobs, not Amtrak spokeswoman Chelsea Kopta, as an earlier version of the article said.
Mike Shane started hearing the mud flow down his street on Opal Canyon Road in Duarte on Friday night.
"It sounded like a rushing river," he said.
But he never considered leaving his home, despite the city's evacuation orders. He's lived in the area 17 years and has seen his share of mudslides, he said.
"There's no need to go," said Shane as he stood in front of his house Saturday morning and watched trucks scoop up the thin layer of mud that lined his sidewalk. "I want to be here with my house and dog."
Shane's neighbor Rochelle Carpio, standing next to him in white and pink pajamas, nodded in agreement.
Carpio and her husband, Yvan, said this storm wasn't as bad as previous ones but that in general they usually don't listen to evacuation orders.
The Carpio family dids, however, have an escape car packed with their 4-month-old baby's essentials and emergency food in case they had to leave immediately.
They said their property was undamaged.
About a block away, Cecilia Cruz was bent over her flowers, lifted the sandbags that had guarded them from Friday's rains. Her hands and shoes were covered in thick mud as she worked.
Cruz went outside at 7:30 a.m., and didn't find any damage to her house. Previous mudslides in recent weeks have been worse, said Cruz, who has lived in the area for eight years.
"The tractors do a good job and are able to remove the mud," she said, pointing to the layer that covered her driveway.
Evacuation orders have now been lifted in Duarte.
After a tense day and night of rain and mudflows, the evacuations ordered in the hillside neighborhoods of Duarte have been lifted.
The area saw some mudslides, but there were no reports of major property damage.
Santa Barbara Airport, Long Beach and Lancaster were among the places that set new records for the day:
All lanes of the 5 Freeway in Sun Valley are now open after heavy flooding caused a shutdown through early Saturday morning, California Highway Patrol Officer Peter Nicholson said.
The freeway had been closed since late Friday afternoon from Lankershim Boulevard to Sheldon Street.
Crews are still cleaning the remnants of a mudslide on the 210 Freeway in Altadena after heavy rains Friday night.
The mudslide was reported at 5:49 p.m. Friday night, Nicholson said. The Wheatland Avenue entrance and exit ramps were closed, but expected to reopen around 9 a.m, Nicholson said.
Two right lanes of the southbound 15 Freeway remain closed near Highway 138 on Saturday after a portion of the roadway collapsed Friday night, sending a fire engine toppling into a creek below.
A crew of three was aboard the engine driving in the right lane around 8:30 p.m. Friday night when they felt the engine's back tires sinking into the road, said San Bernardino County Fire Capt. Mike McClintock. They evacuated through the driver's side of the fire engine before the road gave way, taking the truck with it.
The engine was still running and its emergency lights were on as it fell, McClintock said.
The firefighters were transported to a hospital as a precaution, he said, but none were seriously injured.
9:49 a.m.: This post was updated with information from San Bernardino fire and California Highway Patrol officials.
Utility crews were working to restore power to residents who have lost service during the storm
This morning, the L.A. Department of Water and Power said 57,318 customers were still without power. Southern California Edison said 28,000 customers still didn't have electricity.
From San Diego to Westwood, mighty trees were falling Friday as the storm brought winds that at times topped 80 mph.
Flooding has closed all lanes of the 5 Freeway in Sun Valley from Lankershim Boulevard to Sheldon Street. Alternate route: Highway 170.
A lane on Interstate 15 failed at the Cajon Pass on Friday night, leaving a fire engine dangling over the side of the road. Officials said all firefighters got out safely, but the engine eventually went over the side.
All lanes of the 110 Freeway have reopened in South Los Angeles.
The 110 Freeway flooded Friday at 51st Street, prompting the closure.
3:32 a.m.: This article was updated with details that all lanes of the 110 Freeway are now open.
Utility crews will work through the night to restore power to 78,200 customers affected by outages, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported late Friday.
Because of the high number of incidents and the intense wind and rain expected to continue through the night, DWP staffers estimate restoration will take 12 to 24 hours, maybe longer for some customers.
Below are the hardest-hit areas, followed by the number of customers without power, as of 10 p.m. Friday:
Chinatown: 2,290 customers
Boyle Heights: 890 customers
East Hollywood: 6,000 customers
Mid-Wilshire: 3,600 customers
Sherman Oaks: 2,600 customers
Larchmont: 3,200 customers
Green Meadows: 4,400 customers
Vermont/Slauson: 2,244 customers
Arlington Heights: 1,871 customers
Harvard Heights: 1,797 customers
Reseda: 3,000 customers
Van Nuys: 3,800 customers
Palms: 3,400 customers
Del Rey: 3,400 customers
Koreatown: 3,500 customers
Hollywood: 1,422 customers
The DWP urged customers to use caution around downed or dangling power lines or poles. If you see a downed wire, always assume it is live and immediately dial 911. Never touch a downed power line or anything that’s touching a downed power line, including water.