Prince Harry, Meghan, Oprah Forced to Evacuate Homes in California Flooding
Prince Harry, his wife Meghan, and celebrity neighbors such as Oprah Winfrey have been ordered to evacuate their homes in wealthy Montecito, California, as ongoing rains and flooding threaten widespread destruction.
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday:
When Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle purchased a sprawling estate in Montecito for nearly $15 million in 2020, they didn’t have this in mind.
An order Monday from the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management told all residents of the tony seaside town to “leave now.” Powerful rains have caused flooding in the area, and strong winds have hurled debris onto roadways.
It was unclear whether anyone at the royal couple’s home had evacuated — or, indeed, whether Harry, Meghan or their children, Archie and Lilibet, were on the premises. Representatives for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Other celebrities, such as Ellen DeGeneris, were ordered to shelter in place:
The state has been experiencing rain since late December, as several winter storms known as “atmospheric rivers” have picked up warm, moist air from the central Pacific and dumped it on the cool California coast. As of Monday, 90% of the counties in California — including Los Angeles County — were under some form of flash flood warning.
The flooding has disrupted life across the state, and has brought extremely dangerous conditions to many communities. On Monday, a five-year-old boy was swept away in San Louis Obispo County by floodwaters when his mother’s car became stranded. Rescue workers were able to retrieve the mother but could not reach the boy. They searched for hours before suspending their efforts due to increasingly dangerous conditions.
Much of California has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it typically has warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. In the past decade, however, periods of extreme drought with almost no winter rain have been followed by periods of intense winter rainfall. This year was predicted to be the third dry “La Niña” winter in a row — until the rains came.
Journalists and politicians are quick to attribute California’s recent extreme weather to climate change. But scientists are less certain, saying that the changes predicted by climate change theories are still yet to come.
Though the rains present a unique opportunity to collect water to use in future dry period and alleviate the state’s periodic droughts, the state has not built significant reservoirs to capture water in forty years. New storm water collection technology is said to be in the works, but lacks political will from the state’s leaders, despite a deluge of federal spending that includes money for investment in new infrastructure projects.