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OC cleaning up after flooding, mud flows

December 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Orange County residents began to clean up the damage caused by six days of rain, with flooding and mud flows affecting several areas.

A break in the storm provided some relief forOrange County residents, and crews were busy cleaning up streets when the sun came out before noon.

Mud and debris forced residents of a private community in Orange County to evacuate their homes. The mudslides flowed into the area of Dove Canyon in the city of Rancho Santa Margarita at about 5:15 a.m.

Capt. George Casario with Orange County Fire Authority said they performed 60 rescues and five homes have been red-tagged, meaning they are not safe to enter.

According to the Orange County Fire Authority, there were about 50 people evacuated from the Silverado and Williams canyon areas.

Downtown Laguna Beach streets were 90 percent cleared of mud and debris after extensive flooding closed down city streets Wednesday. Businesses are set to reopen Thursday. Torrential rains led to flash flooding at the intersection of Beach and Broadway streets.

"They said it was going to be the strongest storm in 15 years. I thought it would be strong but wasn't expecting as much as we got," said resident Dick Coombs.

Heavy rain picked up around 2 a.m. The first indicator that hillsides were softening came from a 911 call in Laguna Canyon.

"Around 3 in the morning it just started the hardest rain I've ever seen and I looked outside my window and I couldn't see anything. All the rain was just coming down. It was crazy," said resident Luc Stevens.

"A man from Stan Oaks Lane called and said a mudslide had just come through his home and he was trapped. Our crews went out, rescued him. Fortunately, he wasn't injured at all. But that started a flood of calls from that point on," said Lt. Jason Kravetz of the Laguna Beach Police Department. "At 4 in the morning all the neighbors were out here watching it. I couldn't even get the people across the street. There was just no way of walking across the street," said resident Jon Loomis.

First responders ended up making 24 swift-water rescues in Laguna Canyon, which remained evacuated as of 11 a.m. Before heading out, some residents did their best to unplug mounds of mud from the edges of the flood channel.

Business owners in downtown were also caught off guard by just how quickly conditions worsened overnight.

"We had mud probably up to six inches in the back," said Rudy Campos, who owns a barber shop downtown. "The city did a good job they came in here with heavy equipment and cleaned it up so now we're ready for the next one." Across the street Gary Turner's health food store suffered minor damages. "We might have to get a few new desks because of the mold but nothing too bad."

Despite all the mudslides and rescues that were needed overnight, no major injuries were reported.

Orange County Evacuation Centers:

Laguna Beach High School
625 Park Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

El Modena High School
3920 Spring St.
Orange, CA 92869

Mission Viejo High School
25025 Chrisanta Dr.
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Mandatory evacuations have been issued for the following roads in Silverado Canyon:

  • This A Way
  • That A Way
  • Grundy Lane
  • Sullman Lane
  • Bond
  • Kitterman
  • White Canyon
  • Monty Lane
  • Hide A Way
  • Anderson Way
  • By The Way

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