California was hit hard by a ferocious atmospheric river storm that has caused substantial damage and death. Record-breaking amounts of rain fell on the Los Angeles basin, leading to numerous mudslides and damaged structures, leaving the city in a state of chaos. Further south in California, the storm proved deadly, leading to widespread power outages and three fatalities. The extreme saturation of the ground has heightened concerns about potential landslides, rockslides, and mudslides in the aftermath of one of the wettest storm systems to hit the Los Angeles area.
Although worst-case flooding was avoided, the damage from the storm has been likened to “1,000 cuts”, with scores of sinkholes, downed trees, and areas of erosion across the region. Multiple homes in the Studio City neighborhood experienced significant damage after being flooded with debris from the storm, resulting in the evacuation of several residents. While some communities began to recover on Monday, officials cautioned that even a small amount of additional rain could cause further catastrophes. President Biden offered federal help to Los Angeles, following a call with the Mayor, to assist in the recovery efforts after the devastating storm.
Given the record-breaking amounts of rain and the deadly power of the winds, California is grappling with a widespread natural disaster and multiple challenges. With soil saturation at a high level, the risk of landslides and other mining hazards, along with widespread damage to homes and infrastructure, poses a significant challenge for residents and responders as they work to recover from the recent storm. Renewed rainfall in Southern California, even if minimal, brings the potential for more destruction and threatens to hinder the region’s long-term recovery efforts.