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California Faces Rain and Flooding Threat as Atmospheric River Approaches

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California was once again pounded with rain on Monday, as another storm system swept through the state, threatening to bring flooding and power outages. This storm comes on the heels of a deadly deluge two weeks ago, which caused widespread destruction and power outages.

In the Bay Area, thunderstorms, wind gusts, and lightning moved into the region on Monday afternoon, with forecasters warning of a possible “land spout” in southwestern San Mateo County, south of San Francisco. Meanwhile, a line of thunderstorms was sweeping over the northern Central Valley, leading to concerns about flooding and flash flooding.

The rain is being brought by an atmospheric river, a type of storm in which Pacific winds blow narrow, intense bands of moisture over the West Coast, causing heavy rain, snow, and floods in California. This atmospheric river has already dumped between two and 10 inches of rain in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, with the highest totals in the foothills of the mountains. The airport in Santa Barbara had to shut down due to flooding on the airfield, and reports of roadway flooding, debris, and road closures have been streaming in.

Forecasts indicate that more rain is expected over the next few days, with flood watches in effect for millions of people, mostly in California, through Wednesday. The soil is so saturated from the previous storm that this rain has nowhere to go, leading to concerns about the potential for further flooding and mudslides.

Evacuation warnings have been issued for certain vulnerable communities, and flash flood warnings are in effect for the Santa Monica Mountains, Hollywood Hills, and Beverly Hills. Additionally, the authorities in Santa Barbara found a woman’s body in Mission Creek, prompting concerns about the potential impact of the storm on the region.

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In Los Angeles, residents have been urged to prepare for the storm, with homeowners and workers spending Sunday preparing sandbags and laying plastic tarps over muddy hillsides that still bore the scars of the last storm. Some residents, like Staci Broussard, have taken extra precautions to reinforce their properties and prevent further damage from the storm.

The storm is expected to continue to bring heavy rains and strong winds to the region, raising concerns about the potential for more flooding, mudslides, and damage to homes and infrastructure.

As the rain continues to fall, residents in affected areas are bracing themselves for the impact of this latest storm, hoping that the region can weather this latest deluge without further devastation. In the meantime, authorities and residents alike are taking all necessary precautions to prepare for the worst and ensure the safety of everyone in the affected areas.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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