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IE burn-area residents prepare for Friday storm

February 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Another Pacific storm is expected to reach Southern California late Friday, and Inland Empire residents are bracing for the worst. Yucaipa is near one of the burn areas that could be hit with flooding and mud flows.For the people who live in one mobile home park, it's been a stressful past six months. First, the Pendleton Fire burned very close by, just up in the hills to the east. Then recent heavy floods.

K-rails are in place and they've done the job so far but as another storm moves in folks here can only hope that these do the job again.

In one Yucaipa neighborhood sandbags are piled high. And K-rails snake up and down the street. They're tools that folks up here consider to be eyesores, but resident Todd Petersen says at least they work.

"At first I didn't like it, but now I see what the rain can do, and mud, I'm kind of glad they're here," said Petersen.

Even though his yard is now covered with more than a foot of mud from the last storm, K-rails and sandbags have kept the mudflows away from homes.

Petersen has lived in the area for 22 years. He says he's never seen mudslides like he has the past couple of months.

County works crews are quickly rebuilding the shoulder along Oak Glen Road through the burn area. Every time it rains the side of the road nearly washes out.

"Just got to maintain it, otherwise if we don't, cars go off, they get sucked down and it sucks them into the hills," said Mike Loftin, San Bernardino County Public Works. "So just trying to keep it safe and keep the water off the road."

In Riverside, plastic tarps are now in place to keep water off rooftops. And contractors are scrambling to finish roofing jobs before the storm rolls in.

Tom Garton, president of the Huffman Roof Company, says on days like this, he's often at his computer watching Doppler radar. He knows the next few days are sure to be busy, which can be a good thing, but only if he's ready.

"Weather is a wonderful thing for roofing contractors," said Garton. "It brings in a lot of calls and potential business, especially in this very, very trying economy."

And you can still see signs of a trying economy all over the place. Add to that fire and potential flooding and you can see why folks in this neighborhood are wondering when it will all end.