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Ventura County focuses on burn areas

January 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Storms are moving in Thursday evening, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger directed the State Office of Emergency Services to activate its emergency operations centers.The Ventura River flows into the Pacific Ocean. Just upriver is where a number of homeless people are camping out. That is one area of concern in Ventura County as the rain approaches.

The river is mostly dry. Ventura County Sheriff's deputies surveyed the area early Thursday by helicopter to see how many homeless people were camped out.

"Thomas," before he rode off on his bicycle, told Eyewitness News that he and about 50 others live along the river bottom. There's no concern there, he said.

"This hasn't flooded in years," said Thomas. "There's so much warning that there's no concern at all. It could rain all day today, and all day tomorrow and still wouldn't have an effect on us."

Up the 101 Freeway in La Conchita, some residents were filling sandbags. The sandbags have been strategically placed in front of homes to keep any rain runoff out.

"What the county told us a couple years ago was, if you get an inch of rain an hour, you need to be concerned about it," said La Conchita resident Mike Bell. "So there's a couple people in town that now have weather stations, where you can look and tell what your rainfall is per hour. The community is very cognizant of that hill behind us."

It was nearly three years ago when a massive landslide devastated the community of La Conchita, killing 10 people. There are some stark reminders of that day still around.

There is a warning sign at the town entrance stating that the area is prone to landslides, and staying there, one does so at one's own risk.

"When you look back on the history of La Conchita, you can see that it is a highly hazardous area," said Ventura County Fire Department Captain Barry Parker. "And there's always the potential for mudslides if there is a significant amount of rainfall. That's why we have sand available, we have sandbags available, but the best advice is just to stay clear of the area."

In the burn areas in Ventura County, the Fire and Sheriff's Departments will be keeping a watchful eye for problems as the rain approaches.


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