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Powerful storm system pounds SoCal roads

December 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The latest round of rain to douse the Southland has foothill residents on high alert for the possibility of mudslides.The latest round of rain to douse the Southland has foothill residents on high alert for the possibility of mudslides. La Canada Flintridge residents were urged to get ready and take steps to protect their property. The area was hit hard overnight by rain, but there was no significant runoff from the scorched hillsides as of Sunday night.

However, the prevalence of K-rails and sandbags reflect concerns that the storms could saturate the hillsides and put it all to the test.

Residents in the Paradise Valley area in La Canada Flintridge have been bracing for the possibility of another mudslide, like the one that damaged homes in the neighborhood last year.

Neighbors said they were ready to go if ordered out.

"Everybody is high on alert right now," said Colin Mahoney. "They're watching everything."

The Station Fire burned the hillsides next to the neighborhood. County officials have been monitoring the debris basins and say they are prepared for several inches of rainfall.

Some major thoroughfares were closed across the Southland.

Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu was shut down as rock and mudslides blocked the road.

The closure started at Kanan Dume Road and continued north to Las Posas, near Point Magu in Ventura County.

The California Highway patrol allowed some residents in at Kanan Road with a CHP escort.

It was not immediately known when PCH would reopen.

The 710 freeway in Long Beach was also closed Sunday night in both directions at Willow Street due to flooding.

The National Weather Service projected three to seven inches in the mountains and the foothills, increasing the chance of debris flows in the burn areas. The area, as well as other wildfire-scorched parts of Los Angeles County including Morris, Briggs and Crown burn areas, has been under a flash flood watch since Saturday.

The NWS also forecasted two to four inches of rain along the coastal areas by Sunday night and possibly three more inches before Monday night. The concern is more in the forecast later on this week will trigger the already-saturated ground to give way. An even stronger storm system is set to arrive Tuesday night and into Wednesday.

The NWS issued a flashflood warning for southeastern San Bernardino County.

Also, a rain advisory was issued for all Los Angeles County beaches and the alert was expected to remain in effect until at least noon Monday. Around midday, some minor flooding and rockslides were reported in the Hollywood Hills, where nearly five inches of rain fell within a span of 36 hours.

"I'm concerned. I try not to panic or anything like that because we spent those emotions last year, but you stay on alert," said Olivia Brown, a La Canada Flintridge resident.

"Us and Public Works, we're up quite a bit taking a look at things, and even with the rain being as consistent as it has been, it hasn't caused any need for alarm at this point," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Randy Tuinstra.

"I think the county has done everything they've been able to do. It's a little concerning that they're not quite finished with the basins but pretty close. We're expecting better results than last year, so we're keeping our fingers crossed," said Steve Brown, another La Canada Flintridge resident.

The rain forced closures of all county roads within the Station Fire burn area. The closures began 2 a.m. Sunday.

Angeles Forest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road are closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles.

Residents living in the burn areas are not permitted to use the roads until the closures are lifted. Also, burn area residents are advised to remove their vehicles from streets.

The rain is also taking a toll on Southland roads. The California Highway Patrol noted 355 crashes in Los Angeles County freeways and roads between 5 and 9 a.m. Sunday due to the wet weather. This compares to 42 problems on last weekend's dry pavement.

Residents in the previously burned areas can obtain sandbags from the following locations:

  • Fire Station 24, 9411 Wentworth Street, Sunland
  • Fire Station 91, 14430 Polk Street, Sylmar
  • Council District 2 field office, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga
  • Sand and sandbags are available at the vacant lot located at the intersection of Day Street and Pali Avenue, Tujunga
The city of Long Beach is providing free sand to residents at five fire stations. Residents must bring and use their own shovel (self-service) to get the sand, which is available in large bins outside the following five fire stations:

  • #5 7575 E. Wardlow Rd.
  • #7 2295 Elm Ave.
  • #12 6509 Gundry Ave.
  • #13 2475 Atlantic Ave.
  • #14 5200 Eliot St.
  • In the event that evacuations orders are issued, the following locations (which are accessible to persons with disabilities) will be used as shelters:

    • Sunland Park Recreation Center, 8651 Foothill Blvd., Sunland, (818) 621-2321
    • Sunland Senior Citizens Center, 8640 Fenwick St. Sunland, (818) 353-9571
    The Los Angeles City Emergency Management Department will continue to monitor weather reports and the impact on the previously burned areas throughout the duration of the storm. Additional information is available at:


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