British expat in LA describes ‘biblical’ scenes amid Storm Hilary and earthquake

Tim Amoui and his partner Shayda Frost driving in the rain  (Shayda Frost/PA)
Tim Amoui and his partner Shayda Frost driving in the rain (Shayda Frost/PA)

A British expat living in Los Angeles has said Storm Hilary turned the street outside his house into a “river” which you could have “canoed down”, describing the tempest and concurrent earthquake as “biblical”.

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

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

Fearing his home could be washed away by a mudslide, Mr Amoui 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,” he 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.

He decided to return home after witnessing a car spin off the road and crash into the central reservation.

Our greatest fear living on a hillside was mudslides

Tim Amoui

“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 70 mph and just smashed into the wall.”

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,” he 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 there way early last week.

“Nobody took it seriously until maybe like 36 hours beforehand,” he 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 has never 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.”