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IE woman dies after car swept away in storm

December 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
After days of torrential rain, the sun is finally shining on Southern California, but the threat of mudslides is not over and at least one death is being blamed on the storm.

Officials said a Menifee woman died after her car swept away at Goetz Road and Railroad Canyon Road in the Canyon Lake area near I-15 on Wednesday.

The Riverside County coroner's office said 39-year-old Angela Marie Wright drove through the flooded intersection and was swept into a flooded wash.

The victim somehow veered off the edge of the road, which had fast-moving water running across from an overflowing creek. She may not have seen where she was going. It's possible she may have tried to drive through the water on the roadway.

"At that hour, about 3:30, it was raining hard and it was dark here, so I don't think she saw the water, or maybe just saw a little bit of reflection, and didn't realize how strong the current was," said Canyon Lake resident Ruben Flores. "It's very unfortunate."

The cause of the incident was under investigation.

About 200 homes have been evacuated in Highland after a mudslide buried cars and destroyed homes.

Geologists will be checking for more erosion problems in the area.

Crews worked overnight to try to clear all the mud and debris with skip loaders and bulldozers. Flood-control workers were digging out a channel on Thursday to remove all the mud.

Rain brought in about four feet of mud, which buried homes and cars in East Highland. An evacuation order remained in effect Thursday for the area because of an unstable hillside that crews were still trying to shore up.

One family became stuck when they tried to escape with their two children on Wednesday. Luckily, some friends helped the family escape to safety.

"The mud was so high. I ended up having to take my shoes off because I couldn't walk," said Kelvin Knight.

On Thursday, Knight was allowed to make a quick stop at his home to retrieve some Christmas gifts.

"There's going to be a lot of work to be done, but I'm not like some of my neighbors who lost everything," said Knight.

Knight's backyard pool got the brunt of the damage. His house was spared the mud that destroyed many of his neighbors' houses.

Another Highland resident, Ibeth Garcia, was allowed to go back into her destroyed home to get belongings.

"Last night, we asked them if we could get in there, and they said no because there might be a gas leak," said Garcia.

The San Bernardino County fire marshal and building inspector went door to door red-tagging homes deemed unsafe to occupy.

In San Bernardino, at least 30 homes were damaged by mudslides.

In the high desert, residents were also dealing with heavy rain that dumped 4 to 8 inches in the area. The Mojave River, which normally runs underground, was at flood stage at 17 feet.

Several homes there were damaged by the flood.

"Certainly, we want to get everybody back home as quickly as possible. I mean, Christmas is almost here, and we don't want to keep people out of their homes any longer than absolutely necessary," said Bill Peters of San Bernardino Cal Fire.

EVACUATION CENTERS

Immanuel Baptist Church
28355 Baseline
Highland, CA 92346


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