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California flooding: At least 17 people dead, more than 200,000 homes, businesses without power

Massive flooding in California has killed at least 17 people and left more than 200,000 homes and businesses without power as of Tuesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed the deaths during a Tuesday visit to the town of Capitola on the Santa Cruz coast that was hard hit by high surf and flooding creek waters last week.

CALIFORNIA SCENES SHOW DEVASTATING FLOODING, SINKHOLES AMID BARRAGE OF ATMOSPHERIC RIVERS

“We’ve had less people die in the last two years of major wildfires in California than have died since New Year’s Day related to this weather,” the governor said. 

He also noted that California is “proof that the climate crisis is real and we have to take it seriously.” 

The storms have created what Newsom called a “weather whiplash,” swinging from an epic drought to the other extreme and arriving with a fury and frequency likely to create problems well into next week.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who represents California’s 23rd Congressional District, offered his “deepest condolences to the families and friends who have lost loved ones” and praised the first responders who “continue to brave the elements to protect their communities.” 

The deaths have included a pickup truck driver and motorcyclist killed Tuesday morning when a eucalyptus tree fell on them on Highway 99 in the San Joaquin Valley near Visalia, the California Highway Patrol said. 

A five-year-old child went missing after he and his mother were stranded in rising waters near San Miguel. His mother was rescued but the boy was swept away and a seven-hour search Monday turned up only one of his Nike shoes.

CALIFORNIA DRIVER CRASHES THROUGH WALL INTO PASADENA POOL WITH 3 PEOPLE INSIDE, INCLUDING CHILD

The storm that began Monday dumped more than a foot of rain at higher elevations in central and Southern California and buried Sierra Nevada ski resorts in more than 5 feet of snow.

Rockfalls and landslides shut down roads, and gushing runoff turned sections of freeways into waterways. Swollen rivers swamped homes and residents of small communities inundated with water and mud were stranded. A helicopter dropped 10 sheriff’s deputies Tuesday to help the residents.

Residents of the small agricultural community of Planada, which is along a main highway leading to Yosemite National Park, were ordered Tuesday to pack up and leave after Bear Creek overflowed and flooded some homes.

DANGEROUS WEATHER CONDITIONS IN CALIFORNIA AS TENS OF THOUSANDS FORCED TO EVACUATE

The latest atmospheric river — a long plume of moisture stretching out into the Pacific that can drop staggering amounts of rain and snow — began easing in some areas. But more rain was forecast to arrive Wednesday in Northern California, and then a longer storm system was predicted to last from Friday until Jan. 17.

The weather service issued a flood watch through Tuesday for the entire San Francisco Bay Area, along with the Sacramento Valley and Monterey Bay. Areas hit by wildfires in recent years faced the possibility of mud and debris sliding down bare hillsides.

Gusts as high as 88 miles per hour were recorded in the mountains north of Los Angeles, and rainfall was expected to reach up to half an inch per hour. Tornadoes that had been forecast never materialized.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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