Tropical Storm Hilary is hammering California with “life-threatening” floods after making landfall in Mexico on Sunday and making its way up the West Coast to the southern US.
Los Angeles and San Diego are under tropical storm warnings with officials warning residents to shelter away from “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding”.
As California began bracing for the worst of the storm on Sunday afternoon, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake also struck Ventura County.
In Palm Springs, officials revealed that the storm had fully cut off the area.
”There’s no way in or out of Palm Springs and that’s the case for the majority of the Coachella Valley. We’re all stuck … This is a very extreme situation at the moment,” Mayor Grace Garner said early on Monday.
LA Mayor Karen Bass noted her concern that residents may believe the threat to be over if they manage to avoid the initial damage of the storm, unaware that parts of the storm system may come back to strike again.
“We know that it could get much worse,” Ms Bass said during a Sunday press conference.
Crews work to clear mud and debris from California roads after Storm Hilary
Rescuers drive bulldozer through mud to reach senior citizens stuck in care home
In a dramatic scene, rescue officials in the desert community of Cathedral City, near Palm Springs, drove a bulldozer through mud to a swamped care home and rescued 14 residents by scooping them up and carrying them to safety, fire chief Michael Contreras said.
They were among 46 rescues the city performed between late on Sunday night and the next afternoon from mud and water standing up to 5 feet (1.5 metres.)
“We were able to put the patients into the scoop. It’s not something that I’ve ever done in my 34 years as a firefighter, but disasters like this really cause us to have to look at those means of rescue that aren’t in the book and that we don’t do everyday,” he said at a news conference.
Palm Springs left completely cut off from rest of state by Tropical Storm Hilary flooding: ‘We’re stuck’
Tropical Storm Hilary drenched Palm Springs with over half of a year’s worth of rain in mere hours – and cut off the city’s emergency services.
California officials declared a local state of emergency due to “unprecedented rainfall and flooding of local roadways and at least one swift water rescue.” City officials also urged residents to stay home and to “avoid driving during these dangerous conditions.”
Dozens of cars are trapped in floodwaters across the city as well as in surrounding communities, according to ABC7.
“There’s no way in or out of Palm Springs and that’s the case for the majority of the Coachella Valley. We’re all stuck. Our major freeway, I-10, is also closed in both directions. This is a very extreme situation at the moment,” said Palm Springs Mayor Grace Garner on Monday.