Thousands of homes along LA River in danger if flood hits, study finds

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A new study found that thousands of homes along the Los Angeles River are in the way of catastrophic danger if a major flood were to hit the area. (KABC)

With Southern California entering our sixth year of severe drought, a major flood may seem like a far off fantasy. But new research found that when a 100-year flood does hit, it could spell disaster for many areas along the Los Angeles River.

You might think the kind of flooding seen in North Carolina caused by Hurricane Matthew could never happen here in Southern California, but the Army Corps of Engineers says a 100-year flood in SoCal is possible.

A new study shows thousands of homeowners are within newly identified flood zones along the L.A. River.

"We've had some very dry weather the past couple of years but what the hydraulic model shows and what the hydrology models show is that we indeed do have a 1 percent chance of flooding in areas outside of the Los Angeles River," said David VanDorpe with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The areas most at risk: Atwater village and Elysian Valley and also parts of Griffith Park, Glendale and Burbank. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, some 3,000 parcels of land are affected - with at least 2,000 of them residential. These areas could be hit with 5-10 feet of water.

"If a house floods up to 5-10 feet, that could be catastrophic to the contents and the structure," VanDorpe said.

Caroline West lives along the L.A. River, near Betty Davis Park in Glendale.

"It should have been disclosed earlier. We might not have chosen to live here," West said.

West and her neighbors were told they're in the newly identified flood zone, and they were urged to buy flood insurance now before FEMA adds the area to its 100-year flood plain zone.

When that happens, homeowners with federally funded mortgages will be required to have flood insurance.

"Now we're paying $450 a year, but it could go higher if we're put in a flood zone," West said.

Some residents say flood insurance just won't fit into their budgets, especially for those on fixed incomes.

The Army Corps of Engineers and several other city agencies held a meeting for homeowners on Tuesday. Another meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7 at the Friendship Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Related Topics:
weatherfloodingstudyscienceAtwater VillageGlendaleElysian ValleyGriffith ParkBurbankLos Angeles