Five-year-old boy swept away in California storm as residents told to flee

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Five-year-old boy swept away in California storm as residents told to flee

A five-year-old has been swept away by floodwaters in California as the state’s death toll from a series of storms rises to 14.

The boy and his mother were reportedly in a truck taking him to school when the vehicle was overcome by water.

Tens of thousands remain without power and mass evacuations are under way, with more cyclones to come.

People living in the elite coastal enclave of Montecito are among those ordered to leave their homes.

The neighbourhood near Santa Barbara is home to several celebrities including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – Harry and Meghan – and Oprah Winfrey.

It is unclear if Prince Harry, who is currently promoting his memoir Spare, or his wife and children are currently in Montecito.

The boy swept away in floodwaters sparked a seven-hour search that was called off when it became too dangerous for divers, said local officials.

Bystanders pulled the mother out of the truck but saw the boy being swept out of the vehicle. His shoe was later found by rescuers.

The boy was said by his father to have been on his way to school, according to local media.

More than 100,000 people were still without power as of Monday afternoon and state officials said the death toll has risen from 12 to 14.

Around 90% of Californians – some 34 million people in the most-populous US state – were under flood watch, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We expect to see the worst of it still ahead of us,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at a news conference. “Don’t test fate.”

An order issued on Monday afternoon by the Montecito Fire Department directed residents of the town and nearby canyons: “Leave now!”

Residents unable to flee are being told to move to their innermost room or high ground.