RIVERSIDE, Calif.—Monsoon-like rains hit Southern California on Sunday and Monday morning, left over from Hurricane Norbert.
Flash flood warnings were issued for Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and a flash flood watch extended into Monday morning for the mountain and desert regions all the way up to Las Vegas.
Mitch Wesche, Division Chief for the City of Riverside Fire Department, said the department received 70 calls for help in a one and a half hour period on Sunday.
“[In] two vehicles, we had a total of eight people rescued,” he said. “Because they were in either standing or rising water, their car stalled, and they were stranded while the water was rising.”
The fire department also had to rescue several people from a car that was hit by a falling tree. The car’s doors were damaged and the people inside couldn’t get out while the running water surrounding the car kept rising.
One resident in a badly hit neighborhood described the intense downpour as just like a hurricane. During the storm, the wind knocked a tree branch into the gutter, clogging the drain. It flooded the end of the street and a neighbor’s house was submerged in three feet of water.
The 91 Freeway was flooded with five to six feet of water, stranding several cars. The storm knocked out the electricity in the area, causing the electric pumps in the underpass designed to pump out extra water to become inoperable until the electricity could be restored.
Wesche said the floods were gone almost as soon as they arrived.
[Mitch Wesche, Division Chief for the City of Riverside Fire Dept]:
“All of a sudden those flash floods come in, there’s a huge downpour, the rivers and everything swell, and then all of a sudden it’s gone.”
Wesche reminded the public to avoid driving through standing or running water, since it is hard to tell what is underneath or how deep it is. He said even one foot of running water is enough to sweep a car off the road.
Riverside received on average 1.57 inches of rain in two hours and the wind averaged at about 40 miles per hour, according to the fire department.
The rain and thunderstorms are expected to move northeast but southern California is expected to dry up after Monday, according to the NOAA National Weather Service.