Southern California Underwater

Catastrophic Storms cause Damage and Destruction

January 20, 2023

The state of California is currently being slammed by rain and winds. More than 11 million people in Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties were under flood warnings as of Tuesday, January 10th, as powerful jetstreams from Southeast Asia blow solid winds and warm water over to the coast, and as a result, slam into the coast of California. 

California had been suffering severe drought and these storms are slightly aiding this. 

The storms are not only harming the area but also claiming lives. As of Monday, December 16th, the storms have claimed 19 lives, more than the last two years wildfires. On Wednesday, January 11th, Daphne Fontino, 43, was found dead in her car submerged in eight to ten feet of water about 100 feet from the road in Forestville. 

5-year-old Kyle Doan was swept away by quick-moving floodwaters on January 9th. He was in the car with his mom, Lindsy Doan, a special education teacher in San Luis Obispo County, where Kyle also attends kindergarten, as floodwater rapidly filled their car. They were both on the way to school. She was able to quickly remove him from his car seat, telling him to leave his backpack in the water-filled car. They managed to both get out of the car, but the currents ripped Kyle from his mother’s arms. 

His dad, Brian Doan, described him to CNN as “a great kid that loved to dance… Very talkative, very outgoing. He liked to be silly trying to get attention in all those ways that a 5-year-old likes to do. He likes to play soccer and loves his Paw Patrol.” 

Not too long before the storms had started, Kyle had just finished recovery from a fractured leg injury from falling on the preschool playground. According to his dad, “He was just looking forward to getting back to school.”

After the first night, his dad went from calling the search “a rescue mission” to “a recovery mission” as he lost hope that his son would be found alive. 

On Wednesday, there was a break in the severity of the storms, so an 80-person rescue team aided with K9 units and sonar equipment was able to continue the search. As of Thursday, January 11th, he, unfortunately, has yet to be found. The San Louis Obispo sheriff’s office urges people to leave the rescue mission to professionals to avoid attempted rescuers needing to be rescued themselves. 

More of these ‘atmospheric rivers’, or thin and narrow storms, are heading for California in the coming days and increasing drastically in severity. 

Many neighbors are trying to recover what they can from the damage before the next extreme storms roll up to the shores. Rachel Olvertia used a shovel to remove floodwater and caking mud from her house in Felton Grove. 

“It’s backbreaking labor,” she told CNN. She was also extremely worried about her neighbor’s homes as she told CNN that most of her neighbors are elderly and can not do the cleanup themselves. 

But thankfully, by the end of this week, California residents will get the much-needed recovery and time to clean up the damages that these catastrophic storms have caused. However, this break isn’t coming without struggles. 

Before this strongly needed rest, southern California is going to get doused in rain Monday night into Tuesday, January 16-17th, and more than 6 inches of snow are going to pile up on the mountains. Another 1 to 2 feet of snow is expected to pile up Monday, January 16th in the Sierra Nevada, which has been hit with several feet of snow during the recent barrage of storms. One final storm is forecasted to hit northern and central California, but with little impact. 

The Red Cross is urging people, if they can, to donate to help the people of California to recover. These storms are going to take months to clean up and rebuild, so any support is greatly appreciated. Visit the link below to find out more and how you can help. 

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