Heavy rain breaks down concrete pots at a shopping mall in Southern California

On December 20, 2023, an incident at the Promenade on the Peninsula mall in Rolling Hills Estates, Southern California, highlighted the impact of severe weather conditions in the region. Heavy rainfall led to a significant structural collapse at the mall, raising concerns about safety and infrastructure resilience.

The incident involved the collapse of a portion of the parking garage facade, including large concrete planters and flower boxes filled with dirt. This occurred around 2 p.m., with the debris tumbling over a parking lot entrance. The extent of the collapse covered an area of approximately 60 to 80 feet.

Dana Graham, an eyewitness who was in his nearby realty office at the time, described the event as sounding like a severe traffic accident. He noted the water cascading off the top level of the structure, comparing it to Niagara Falls, and expressed relief that no one was underneath the structure when it collapsed.

Fortunately, no injuries were reported in the incident, and no vehicles were damaged. Mall employees quickly responded to the situation by taping off all entrances to the garage. Los Angeles County fire crews and structural engineers were promptly on the scene to clear debris and assess the extent of the damage. An L.A. County fire official explained that excessive water on the planters, which were part of the facade, was the cause of the collapse. They also noted that other planters in different locations were being assessed for similar risks.

The Rolling Hills Estates community has been cautious about the possibility of further damage from ongoing storms, especially considering a massive landslide in July that destroyed several homes and necessitated widespread evacuations. A report released in November attributed this landslide to excessive rainfall, causing shifting soil and widespread destruction. With continued rainfall expected through the end of the week, residents and authorities remained vigilant, concerned about the potential for more damage to homes and structures in the area.

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