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O.C. mudslides trigger evacuations

May 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A sudden heavy downpour caused rain and debris to flow down hillsides in recent burn areas of Williams and Modjeska Canyons Thursday, forcing evacuations, closing streets and leaving some residents stranded in their homes.A flash flood warning was issued for Southwestern San Bernardino County, East Central Orange County and Northwestern Riverside County on Thursday evening.

Flash flooding was reported in the area as a result of severe thunderstorms. Two feet of water was reported on roadways in the city of Grand Terrace.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday that was subsequently downgraded to a voluntary evacuation for Williams, Modjeska and Live Oak canyons because of water runoff, according to Lynnette Round of the Orange County Fire Authority.

The canyon areas received an inch of rain over several minutes' time, Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The canyon areas are particularly vulnerable because of the fire damage sustained in a series of 2007 wildfires. Plant vegetation has not taken full root since then, and soil and rocks in the area are easily dislodged.

Evacuation centers were set up Thursday afternoon.

Many roads were blocked or flooded. Authorities said three bulldozers were in the canyon areas working to clear roads. Helicopters were also patrolling the area for extra damage.

One house was damaged by extensive flooding.

There have been no reports of injury.

The Orange County Fairgrounds was accepting farm animals of evacuees, Round said. Evacuees with farm animals can contact the fairgrounds at (714) 708-1588.

City News Service contributed to this report.

 

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