Mandatory evacuations lifted in Camarillo Springs neighborhood

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Evacuations lifted in Camarillo Springs neighborhood
Mandatory evacuations were lifted in a Camarillo Springs neighborhood Tuesday evening. Voluntary evacuations remained in effect.

CAMARILLO, Calif. (KABC) -- Mandatory evacuations were lifted in a Camarillo Springs neighborhood Tuesday evening after a mud flow swamped the area earlier in the day. A voluntary evacuation order remained in effect for the area of San Como Court, San Como Lane, Itamo Street and Gitana Avenue.

About 75 homes were affected by the mandatory evacuation orders, which were lifted at 6 p.m.

"I'm just totally pleased with the help that we got from the city and the sheriff's department and the fire department. They were just wonderful," said Barbara Williams, homeowners association president of the neighborhood.

Residents who were evacuated were overjoyed to come home.

"It's hard to describe something like this, you know, it feels really great," said Jim Schiraishi of Camarillo Springs.

Sheriff's deputies were assigned to patrol the area overnight.

A shelter was made available to affected residents at Calvary Church of Camarillo.

"We're telling people that they need to get out. The reason why is these homes sit right at the base of the hill where the Springs Fire burned just a little over a year ago," said Ventura County Fire Captain Barry Parker earlier Tuesday afternoon. "So not only is there mud debris flow but there's also the potential for rocks that are coming down the hill, and some of these boulders are very large."

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The heavy rain began around 6:30 a.m., and within an hour, the roads were soaked. Just before 10 a.m., the mud flow began.

The drainage system was working as designed, engineers said Tuesday. The drainage canals were overwhelmed a month ago, when rain sent several feet of mud into backyards and severely damaged one home.

Crews used bulldozers to clean out clogged storm drains at the bottom of the hill, and sandbagged some areas.

"They stayed late last night to make sure that there was a clear channel through there, and the excavator was working on the hill above that drain in order to clear away the big boulders that had come down the hill during the last storm," said Barbara Williams.

"We got about 40 yards of debris, mud, rocks into our yard. So we're monitoring that, making sure that it doesn't repeat that," said local resident Phil Eads, who was evacuated.

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Meantime, the heavy rain brought down a tree, smashing a car in Canoga Park. Residents say the sound of the falling tree is unforgettable.

"I thought it was thunder, and then I looked outside the window and it was a big tree right there on the street," said Carlos Flores of Canoga Park.

A 9-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway remains closed after Sunday's storms caused a mud and rock slide between Yerba Buena and Las Posas roads. Canyon routes near the area opened and closed all afternoon, as scattered rockslides fell and were quickly scooped away by county and state crews.

On Ventura Boulevard, the downpours caused streets to overflow with several feet of water in some places, making driving difficult. Still, most celebrated the rare storm in the middle of California's historic drought.

"We definitely needed this rain," said Glenn Brady of Calabasas.