Two weeks of unrelenting rains in California have killed more people than have died directly from wildfires in the last two years — and the deluge is not over. At least 19 people have died across 10 counties. While officials expect that number to rise, it will also be incomplete. “Those living in our streets may be living on cardboard, they may be living in a tent that can’t withstand the kind of weather we’re having — it’s cold,” Georgia Berkovich, director of public affairs at the Midnight Mission, a long-running human services organization in Los Angeles’s Skid Row, told the Washington Post.
At least two of the Midnight Mission community members died after being exposed to the rain, Berkovich said, but their deaths were not officially attributed to the extreme weather and are thus not included in official death counts. The storms have also wreaked havoc on the Golden State’s power grid, illustrating yet again, the grid’s vulnerability to the stresses of climate change. Hundreds of thousands of California electricity customers have lost power (some multiple times) since New Year’s Eve. (Deaths: Washington Post $; Grid: LA Times $, NPR; Climate Signals background: Atmospheric river change, Rain instead of snow, Drought)