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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Los Angeles survives tropical storm with ‘minimal impacts,’ officials say

A flooded street in Palm Springs, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023.

By Shawn Hubler, Corina Knoll and Soumya Karlamangla

Southern California residents on Monday were assessing the impact of Hilary, a powerful storm whose strong winds and lashing rains transformed roads into streams, broke rainfall records, downed trees and power lines and knocked out 911 systems in several places.

Officials warned that the extent of the damage was not yet known, though initial reports indicated that Southern California had evaded the worst. Areas to the north and northeast were still at risk of heavy rain and flooding from the storm, which weakened to a post-tropical cyclone with winds that were expected to dissipate further as the day wore on.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass and other officials said the city had emerged without any known storm deaths, and that the damage was minor.

“Los Angeles was tested, but we came through it, and we came through it with minimal impacts,” said the president of the Los Angeles City Council, Paul Krekorian.

In the desert and mountain regions of Southern California, poor drainage could still leave some roads impassable. A roughly 20-mile section of Interstate 10 near Palm Springs was shut down Monday morning because of storm-related effects.

Up to an additional 4 inches of rain was possible Monday across parts of California and Nevada, and flood watches were in effect for eastern Oregon and most of Idaho as the remnants of the storm moves north.

Here’s what else to know:

— Three cities in California — Cathedral City, Indio and Palm Springs — said 911 lines were down. Officials in Los Angeles said there had been reports of at least 150 tree-related issues in the city, as well as downed electrical wires and 17 minor mudflows. About 40,000 customers were without electricity in California.

— Schools were closed on Monday for hundreds of thousands of children in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Coachella Valley because officials were concerned that bus routes would be impaired and parents would face hazardous conditions during the morning drop-off hours. Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second largest school district, plans to resume classes on Tuesday.

— Just as the first bands of heavy rain fell on Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, a 5.1-magnitude earthquake — unrelated to the tropical storm — struck northwest of the city. There were no reports of major damage or injuries, but an estimated 12 million people live in the affected area, further fraying the region’s nerves.

— Gov. Gavin Newsom of California declared a state of emergency in several counties in the south, including Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego. The city of Indio, which has about 92,000 residents and is in Riverside County, also declared a state of emergency on Sunday. Across the state, officials canceled events, closed parks and beaches, and deployed more than 7,500 emergency responders.

— Before Hilary reached the United States, it battered Baja California, Mexico, where one person died and another was missing, but Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, posted in Spanish that “fortunately, there was not much damage.”

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