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Wednesday, 20-Jan-2010 07:06 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Evacuations begin in Los Angeles before 3rd storm

The second in a series of powerful storms wreaked havoc Tuesday on Southern Califonia, crushing a woman to death with a fallen tree, smashing windows and flooding coastal neighborhoods.

San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Mike Munsey said the woman was killed when a eucalyptus tree with a 10-foot diameter trunk crushed her trailer and a neighbor's in a mobile home park near El Cajon. Emergency crews needed a crane to move the tree and extricate her body from the wreckage of her home.

Los Angeles County fire officials said they would issue mandatory evacuation orders for about 587 homes in flood-prone foothill areas beginning early Wednesday in anticipation of the next storm.

Police officers and firefighters went door-to-door in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles, asking residents of about 200 hillside homes to evacuate by morning.

Forecasters said thunderstorms and what looked like tornados surged ashore with fierce winds in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles County beach towns and areas of Orange and San Diego counties.

In San Pedro, a working class neighborhood near the Port of Los Angeles, several blocks were flooded with about six feet of water when storm drains clogged with debris.

Jerry Bazan spent the afternoon sweeping several inches of water out of his living room, where toys, sodden clothing and furniture were strewn about and a thick layer of mud coated the floor.

Bazan said the water rose to about two feet in his apartment within a matter of minutes and some of it was contaminated with sewage. Outside, the water lifted a Dodge Ram truck and carried it down the street, he said.

"It was a heavy downpour, and the drainage system was clogged," he said. "There was nowhere for the water to go, and it just rose up."

"The wind kind of whipped through the parking lot, and the window blew in," she said, still breathless a half-hour later. "It was like an movie posters. My mind said 'earthquake!' and I ducked under the desk."

High winds flipped a parked SUV onto its side and blew out windows in Seal Beach, but forecasters need to examine the damage and interview witnesses before they can confirm that a tornado swept through.

Santa Barbara fire officials said what looked like a small tornado cut a path of damage across a residential neighborhood of Goleta, uprooting trees, tearing shingles off a roof and breaking a hole in a fence.

Unlike twisters in the Midwest that can run for miles on the ground, Southern California tornadoes tend to start as waterspouts and dissipate quickly when they come ashore, said Philip Gonsalves, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego.

The fast-moving band of thunderstorms moved on in minutes, leaving spotty sunshine as it headed into Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It left some streets underwater in low-lying beach communities and turned other roadways into muddy swamps. Televised reports showed parked cars with water up to the hoods and kayakers paddling through the streets of Long Beach.


Wednesday, 20-Jan-2010 07:06 Email | Share | | Bookmark
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