Storm Hilary and LA earthquake described as 'biblical' by British man

Tim Amoui said he 'battened down the hatches' after a government alert to his telephone

Tim Amoui and his American partner Shayda Frost drive in the rain when Storm Hilary hit in Los Angeles. Shayda Frost / PA
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A British man living in Los Angeles has described Storm Hilary and the concurrent earthquake as “biblical”, adding that the street outside his house was turned into a “river” you could have “canoed down”.

After receiving government emergency alerts to his phone advising “flood warning, danger to life” on Sunday, Tim Amoui, originally from Haslemere in Surrey, and his American partner Shayda Frost, 37, “battened down the hatches”.

The situation deteriorated rapidly and became “more apocalyptic” overnight on Sunday when the Californian city was struck by a 5.1-magnitude earthquake, said Mr Amoui, 34.

Fearing his home could be washed away by a mudslide, the businessman did not sleep and said unlike the East Coast, people in LA were not prepared to deal with storms of this magnitude.

“This really doesn’t happen here, especially in Southern California,” Mr Amoui told the PA news agency.

“Our road was essentially a river because we live in the hills so the water can only travel in one direction – down.

“There was just water everywhere, especially through the night when it really, really picked up.

“You could have had a great time going down the road in a canoe. Our greatest fear living on a hillside was mudslides.”

The couple had been driving on Highway 101 to collect his car from a garage on Sunday when the storm struck.

Mr Amoui decided to return home after seeing a car spin off the road and crash into the central reservation.

“We realised that we probably shouldn’t be driving and should just batten down the hatches,” he said.

“In front of us on the 101 this car did a 360 at about 60 or 70mph [112kph] and just smashed into the wall.”

Tropical Storm Hilary - in pictures

Later that evening, he received a warning message about the storm, and then another saying there had been an earthquake.

“We initially got a ping about the tropical storm and then very quickly after there was a ping about the earthquake, which was a 5.1, so very significant,” Mr Amoui said.

“I thought they sent the wrong alert initially. But then I felt some shaking.

“With the ongoing tropical storm, plus the earthquake, it felt like California was going through something biblical.”

Residents across the state had been warned that a tropical storm was headed their way early last week.

“Nobody took it seriously until maybe like 36 hours before hand,” Mr Amoui said.

“We had been warned for at least a week and we knew the electricity could have been cut off – but we never expected something like this.”

Mr Amoui, who has lived in LA for the past five years, said he had never experienced a storm like this before in California.

“Ever since I moved to California I have become increasingly aware of the impact of climate change,” he added.

“People here live in fear of many natural disasters, particularly wildfires.

“And now, we can add tropical storms to the list.”

Updated: August 22, 2023, 1:02 PM