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Historic storm sends debris into Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills

LOS ANGELES — A storm of historic proportions dumped record rain on parts of Los Angeles on Monday, sending mud and rocks raining down hillsides dotted with multimillion-dollar homes as people living in homeless encampments across the city scrambled for safety.

More than a million people across the state were left without power.

The storm was the second triggered by an atmospheric river to hit the state in as many days.

About 2.5 million people in the Los Angeles area, including Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills, were under flash flood warnings. Up to 8 inches of rain had already fallen in the region, with more expected, according to the National Weather Service, which called the threat of flash floods and mudslides a “particularly dangerous situation.”

Crews were already rescuing people from rushing waters in several parts of Southern California; They included 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. officials said.

Gushing rivers carried mud, rocks and household items downhill as floodwaters flowed through Studio City behind 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 battled 49 debris flows, 130 reports of flooding, a half-dozen structure fires and the rescue of scores of motorists trapped in vehicles.

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

“We looked outside and five feet of water was flowing and starting to seep through the doors,” Livingston said.

Livingston struggled to save some of his belongings 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 warned of downed trees and power lines on flooded roads and urged residents to avoid driving.

More than 25.4 centimeters of rain fell in the Santa Monica Mountains. Los Angeles Fire Chief Kristin Crowley said the rain is forecast to continue through Tuesday and that hazards will continue to pose threats in areas around recent wildfire burn scars.

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

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

The weather service predicts up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of precipitation in Southern California’s coastal and valley areas; Up to 14 inches (35 centimeters) of precipitation is possible in the foothills and mountains over the next two days.

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

The weekend storm flooded streets and downed trees and power lines throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, while the weather service issued a rare “hurricane-force wind warning” for the Central Coast. Many people had to be rescued from rising floodwaters, including those living in cars and homeless camps.

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

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

He said he heard the distress call on another ship’s marine radio and helped rescue eight people, while 11 others managed to reach the rocky breakwater in Alamitos Bay, where lifeboats were rescued. One injured person was treated.

“They sailed through gusty winds and stormy weather,” Fisk said. “They are very, very lucky.”

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in most counties along the Southern California coast and said emergency resources were ready and emergency shelters were opened.

Most public schools in Los Angeles were open, but other districts canceled classes.

Heavy snow was falling in the Sierra Nevada and drivers were urged to stay off mountain roads.

Much of the state was still drying out from last week’s river-borne atmospheric storm. Atmospheric rivers are relatively narrow clouds of moisture that form over the ocean and can produce heavy amounts of rain as they move over land.

They were nicknamed the “Pineapple Express” because both atmospheric rivers originate near Hawaii.

According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Center for Western Air and Water Extremes, 46 atmospheric rivers have made landfall on the U.S. West Coast since last winter, saving the state from years of drought. Nine were categorized as strong, two as extreme, and one as outstanding.

Watson in San Diego, Michael R. Blood and Eugene Garcia in Los Angeles, and Amy Taxin in Orange County contributed to this report.

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