Crews clear LA debris basin before next storm


Clearing up the Mullally Debris Basin could protect a lot of homes from some serious damage.

The Mullally Debris Basin was filled to 20 percent of its capacity after last week's rainfall. The plan is simple: Clear the basin and then start trekking out the 3,500 yards of sediment Tuesday morning. The forecast calls for rainfall on Wednesday.

Monday was a picture-perfect day to get a lot of work done. Rebuilding was done at some of the homes that were heavily damaged during February mudslides.

Under sunny skies, L.A. County Public Works crews began removing the sediment from the debris bank left behind from last week's heavy rain. According to the county, the basin was filled with 3,500 cubic yards of sediment from the hillside runoff, that's twenty percent of its capacity. The debris basin did its job, last February a huge boulder clogged the basin and tons of mud and debris pulled over into nearby homes. This time, residents say the county's plan of expanding the capacity of the basin and nailing down the k-rails worked to protect their property.

"Obviously there's some level of concern but today the county's up here fixing it, putting it back to ground zero, eliminating the mud and debris basin so we're very pleased with what they're doing," said La Crescenta resident Rich Atwater.

The weather is expected to change later this week. Will Mother Nature give these guys enough time to finish the job and clear the basin?

"We'll be working all day tomorrow. Wednesday the storm is supposed to be coming in, Wednesday morning, early morning, so we may have to halt our operations at that point and we will try to resume it as quick as we can and then Thursday we'll also be able to work all day. We anticipate having the majority of it out by the end of Thursday even if we don't have to work Wednesday," said Arthur Vander Vis, L.A. County Public Works.

Vander Vis said the planning that went into protecting the homes and expanding the debris basin gets a grade of "A+."

There are still nervous residents, but they're thankful last week's heavy and constant rain did not cause any major problems.

Starting Tuesday morning, trucks will start removing the sediment. The county estimates it will take about 350 truck loads to remove it all. They're hoping to have most of it done by Thursday but in the meantime things, they say, are in place and working just fine to protect the homes.

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