Most evacuations lifted as Yucaipa residents dig out from massive mud flows

"The next thing I know, it's wave after wave after wave of mud," said one resident.

Tim Pulliam Image
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
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Local residents and the owners of a local restaurant are assessing damage and starting to work on repairs after massive mud flows overwhelmed the Yucaipa area.

OAK GLEN, Calif. (KABC) -- Residents in the Yucaipa area are now on a long road to recovery after flash flooding sent "wave after wave" of mud into their homes, destroying structures and even businesses.

Heavy rains came to the Southern California region as a result of Tropical Storm Kay - formerly a hurricane - passing by offshore.

The storm pushed heavy bands of moisture into the area and desert and mountain communities in particular saw the heaviest rainfall amounts.

In Oak Glen, located east of Yucaipa, residents spent Tuesday cleaning up the massive mess left behind. Many roads remain blocked with mud while electricity is still out for many homes.

Some evacuation orders were finally being lifted by 6 p.m. Tuesday as crews continued to clear roads and check the debris for survivors. Yucaipa police tweeted: "Evac order will be lifted at Oak Glen Rd/Wildwood Canyon to Upper Potato Canyon Rd. Evac order lifted from Oak Glen Rd/Casa Blanca to Chagall Rd. Residents only will be allowed on Oak Glen Rd/Chagall to Running Quail Rd. Potato Canyon Rd will remain closed."

Bob Fonzi said he was in his shed when the storm hit.

"About 15 minutes later, I go out to move my tractor and I see the entire swell coming at me," he recalled.

In a matter of seconds, Fonzi's horses were standing in mud and his trailer began swimming away.

"You've got homes and backyards destroyed all the way down this creek," said Fonzi.

Roger Seheult told Eyewitness News he was on his way to pick up his daughters from school when a massive pool of mud came rushing toward him and the Oak Glen Steakhouse and Saloon.

"The next thing I know, it's wave after wave after wave of mud, debris, coming down from this flash flood," he said.

The owner of the Oak Glen Steakhouse said the business is badly damaged and is now closed "indefinitely."

A GoFundMe page has been started to help the steakhouse. The owners expect insurance to only cover a limited amount of the overall damage.

The entire dining area and back office of the restaurant remain covered in feet of mud.

The restaurant's owners are committed to clean up and rebuild.

"The damage is pretty bad," said restaurant manager Brandon Gallegos. "As you saw, a lot of years that we put in to this place. A lot of staff that has helped me over the years. A lot of financial investment into eveyritng. When you look at it all you just gotta thank God that everyone is OK."

Evacuations were ordered Monday night for several communities.

Yucaipa police tweeted that the communities of "Oak Glen, Oak Glen Road, north & south, from Casa Blanca Road to the County Line, south from Wild Lilac Point down to WildWood Canyon Road, are subject to an evacuation ORDER."

An evacuation shelter was being established at Redlands East Valley High School, 31000 E Colton Ave, Redlands.

Residents in the community of Forest Falls were told to shelter in place until further notice.

WATCH: Crews in Yucaipa area work to clear out debris after massive mud flows