More than 200 searchers combed through a central California creek Thursday looking for 5-year-old Kyle Doan, who was pulled from his mother’s hands by rushing floodwater three days earlier.
Members of the National Guard and search teams from several counties went “bank to bank,” dissecting brush piles for any clues that could lead them to the child while dive teams searched below the surface of the water, said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Nate Paul.
“We are doing everything we can to find Kyle, using every resource available to us,” Paul said.
The blonde, hazel-eyed boy was swept away Monday near San Miguel, authorities have said. The search for him, on and off since then, has been hampered by brutal weather conditions that have battered California and left behind piles of mud and debris that search teams have had to sift through.
There have been clues that authorities are looking in the right direction: Teams have found physical items that were in the SUV Kyle and his mother were driving in Monday morning, Paul said.
Thursday was a particularly critical day in the search, as the region got a brief respite from the relentless rainfall that’s set to begin again Friday.
“We anticipate more rain arriving tomorrow, and it raining through the weekend, which will significantly hamper the ability to search,” Paul added. But still, he said, there’s hope.
“Hope is not lost. We are searching for Kyle and we will keep this case as an active missing person case until we find him.”
Friday’s expected rain is the latest round in a parade of storms that have hammered the state in recent days and have left at least 18 people dead – and it’s only the beginning in what’s expected to be another difficult weekend.
More than 15 million people are under flood watches across much of Central California’s coastline and valley starting Saturday through at least Sunday.
In Monterey County, just north of San Luis Obispo, Sheriff Tina Nieto on Thursday said the Salinas River was expected to reach flood stage Thursday night and could last through Sunday.
Depending on the amount of additional rain the area receives, authorities are expecting travel disruptions caused by fluctuations of the river as well as a dangerous water flow, the sheriff said. And the flood waters could cut some areas off from essential services, she added, urging residents to make evacuation plans.
The rain will be accompanied by atmospheric rivers – long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that can carry moisture thousands of miles.
An atmospheric river is likely to pummel the northern and central California coast Friday – but is unlikely to be as strong as the atmospheric river events that led to deadly flooding, mudslides and prompted the evacuations of thousands of Californians earlier this week.
The first storm system that will push onshore in the early Friday morning hours will impact the northern California coast. As the day progresses, rainfall will continue to impact the northern California coast but will also push inland and south into the Central California Valley and coastline as well, reaching into southern California by the evening and overnight hours.
And on the heels of that system, an even stronger one will bring heavier rain across northern California on Saturday morning and reach into the central part of the state by midday. This will shift into southern California by Saturday afternoon.
Powerful winds will accompany the rain, with gusts reaching up to 50 mph in the Sacramento Valley and up to 60 mph in the mountains.
And that’s not all: A third storm Sunday afternoon will bring renewed rain chances and flooding to much of the state through Monday morning. California’s coastal communities could see another five inches of rain during that storm system, with some areas possibly seeing more.