LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. - Axl Dominguez awoke early yesterday to a bumping sound and looked out the window to a scary sight: plastic trashcans floating down the flooded street.
And then the water came rushing into his house.
"We didn't have time to get anything. It happened really fast," the 15-year-old said, shivering in shorts, a mud-splashed sweat shirt and bare feet as he waited to go with his family to an evacuation center. "Water started coming in from all the walls. Then the wall fell and we got out through the window."
The tail end of a storm that dumped rain on Southern California for nearly a week gave the region one final lashing, burying houses and cars in mud, washing hillsides onto highways, flooding urban streets and threatening dozens of canyon homes.
Inflatable boats were used to rescue dozens of motorists and homeowners from flooded streets, hotels and hillsides.
The storm weakened as it moved eastward, but floods still washed away homes in Arizona and inundated parts of Nevada and Utah.
The storm turned the final days before Christmas into a nightmare, and left some residents fearful that more and bigger mudslides could strike the wildfire-scarred hillsides in suburban Los Angeles.
Officials yesterday ordered evacuation of 232 homes in La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta, suburbs of Los Angeles below steep hillsides that burned in 2009 and where mudslides inundated homes and backyards in February.