Drenching rains spawned by tropical storm Norbert pounded the Inland Empire on Sunday, causing damage to structures, toppling trees and leaving several cars in low-lying areas submerged in floodwaters.
Eight people had to be rescued after becoming trapped in vehicles that were caught in a flash flood at 14th and Vine streets in Riverside (map), officials said.
Robert Boring said Sunday evening that his father called him for help after getting his car stuck in the rain.
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“He actually told me that he stalled into a puddle, and I did not think it was this big when I came over here," Boring said.
The last few cars were towed from the water around 5 a.m. Monday.
Crews worked overnight and were hoping to to have roadways reopened by 8 a.m.
The storm was strong enough to uproot trees and cause a roof collapse at an abandoned commercial building in San Bernardino.
The storm dropped as much as nearly 3 inches of rain in Hemet and 2 inches of rain in the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, the National Weather Service said. Isolated thunderstorms were expected to continue into Sunday evening and Monday.
A flash flood watch was in effect through Monday evening for the Apple, Lucerne and Coachella valleys, and the mountains in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the NWS said.
Flooding caused Highway 74 in Riverside County to close in both directions from Willowbrook to Highway 243, according to Caltrans.
Temperatures in the Inland Empire reached the high 90s and humid conditions persisted.
Norbert peaked as a Category 3 hurricane early Saturday with sustained winds of 120 mph, but by Sunday night it was a rapidly weakening tropical storm with winds of 45 mph.
Andrew Lopez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.