California Storm: Authorities Order Evacuations Amid Flooding, Mudslides

More than 20 homes destroyed in mudslides as state of emergency is declared.

ByABC News
December 21, 2010, 3:06 AM

Dec. 22, 2010— -- A seemingly unending deluge in southern California has turned coastal cities into lagoons and inland areas into mud pits, forcing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare a state of emergency.

Some parts of the state have had an entire year's worth of rainfall in a single week.

Five separate storms have hit San Diego alone, leaving Qualcomm Stadium looking like a swimming pool. Still, tomorrow's Poinsettia Bowl is scheduled to be played.

Elsewhere in the city, one hotel, the Premiere Inn, was literally turned into an island, surrounded by water on all sides. Lifeguards were forced to bring in boats to rescue stranded guests.

"When I got in the water, it was freezing. I'm talking about it totally sent me through shock," said Tralita Stalcup, one of the guests who evacuated. "I was crying a little bit because I was scared."

The worst of the weather struck today, as Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for six counties in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo and Tulare.

In Laguna Beach, a wall of water four feet high poured through downtown, bringing with it a tide of mud. The heavy water has made driving nearly impossible near the Pacific coast, with puddles the size of lakes forcing road closures.

This morning, a mudslide devastated the town of Highland, Calif., near the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. Most of the residents' cars are now buried in mud, and more than 20 homes were destroyed in just an instant.

Southern California authorities had issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents in mudslide-prone areas Tuesday night, but many elected to stay.

"All I heard was a big old roar of thunder, and I ran downstairs," said one resident. "By the time I got downstairs, I had a roaring river in my living room. I got nothing left!"

At appears that no one was hurt, but tonight many in the area do not know where they will be sleeping.