Mud, debris cover roads, cars stranded as remnants of hurricane move through California desert

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INDIO, California — Mud and debris blocked major intersections and highways Tuesday as remnants of Hurricane Norbert lingered over the California desert.

A flash flood watch for southeastern California remained in effect until Tuesday afternoon while the region dug out and dried up from a Monday dousing by the system that has been causing similar trouble across the Southwest.

Some two dozen vehicles were stranded by flash flooding on U.S. Highway 95 near the Colorado River and the Arizona state line, California Highway Patrol Officer Brett Vessells said.

One SUV that tried to cross a torrent of water was swept into the desert. The driver was able to crawl to the top of the vehicle until CHP officers could rescue him.

"He thought he could make it past but he couldn't," Vessels said.

No injuries were reported.

Highway 95 remained shut down in two stretches.

A few miles to the north on State Route 62, firefighters used a rope system to save four people trapped in their cars as water rose around them Monday night, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said in a statement.

Hundreds of drivers were stranded for several hours until the waters receded and the highway was reopened.

In the Palm Springs area, the major intersection of Bob Hope Drive and Varner Road near Interstate 10 was covered in muck and closed. Several abandoned cars remained in the street a day after the flooding.

"There's probably at least 2 feet of mud and debris that filled that whole intersection," CHP spokesman Mike Radford said.

It was one of several intersections in the same condition.

"The roads, a lot of them are still completely covered in mud," Radford said.

The California Department of Transportation was cleaning up and had no estimates of total damages done to roads by the storm, agency spokesman Philip Havins said.

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