More rescues, evacuations as El Niño storms batter California

Record-breaking rainstorms fueled by El Niño have flooded busy roads, created mudslides and damaged homes in the West.

Southern California is bracing for more scattered showers and lower temperatures Thursday, where record-breaking storms have created serious problems, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

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Firefighters evacuated 10 mobiles homes from a park after heavy rain sent mud crushing in. They also scrambled to pump eight inches of water out of one Orange County driveway, while those in other flood-prone neighborhoods hope retaining walls hold up the hillsides behind their homes.

"We probably had 3,000 tons of mud yesterday. We got another 3,000, we're up to 6,000 tons," said resident Ed Heinlein of the city Asuza.

Across the region, emergency crews are a lifeline. In Arizona, they pulled a man and his young grandson from their Hummer after they were swept up in raging floodwaters.

"Unbelievably thankful...I thank God a thousand times. It wouldn't be enough," said the child's mother, Samantha Young.

In the Los Angeles area, a utility worker was killed while responding to a service call during the storm. Neighbors say he appeared to slip, falling onto live electrical wires.

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"All the guys were there around him trying to get him down," said a witness, Veronica Guzman. "Edison guys were very responsive and very sad and it was very emotional."

Further north, powerful storms also downed power lines and toppled trees. A lightning strike Wednesday night set one garage on fire.

But the storms have brought with them some much needed relief after four years of drought.

Skiers are also taking to the slopes in the mountains as more snow is expected over the week, while Los Angeles County is collecting billions of gallons of storm water in recharge basins to replenish groundwater supplies.

"In an average year we capture about 65 billion gallons of water," said Gary Hildebrand, deputy director of the Los Angeles County of Public Works. "And wetter years such as this El Niño, we can capture easily 2 or 3 times that amount."

The storms will end Thursday and the area will begin to dry out, but forecasters warn this is just the beginning of a long and wet El Niño winter.