Big Tujunga residents prepare for mudslides

SUNLAND, Calif. Michael Schaafsma wonders what will happen to his Sunland house when the next big rainfall arrives.

"If you look at some of the land slides that have happened in 2004 up here, one of them could fill up this creek in a matter of minutes," said Schaafsma.

In 1978, the house located where Schaafsma's house is currently situated was destroyed, buried under several feet of mud and rocks. Thirty years later, his home now sits on the same spot and he has the same worries.

"That stuff can move down here in huge mountains of material, and our house isn't too much higher than where it can come through here," said Schaafsma.

Just a few weeks ago, the station fire roared through these mountains destroying decades of vegetation. The homes here were spared but several dozen residents who live here wonder if they now face a bigger problem.

The station fire came very close to homes, but some of these hills were set on fire intentionally as backfires. Neighbors say it left the area with no vegetation, and they are now very vulnerable when the rains come.

"The city and government agencies have been up here a lot, but they haven't really addressed anything. They've assessed what the needs are, but they're not planning on doing anything. So every neighbor up here is left on their own," said Schaafsma.

Several residents have built up their defenses getting hundreds of sandbags in place.

Schaafsma built a huge wall made of wood, steel and concrete. It's buried four feet into the ground, and it's supposed to divert any mud and water away from the home and into a dry river bed.

"It looks like overkill if you're looking at this thing, but if you take a walk up there, it's a little scary what could take place up there," said Schaafsma.

Schaafsma hopes it never gets to that. All people can do now is prepare for the worst and wait.

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