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.
“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.