SoCal storm: Rain soaks Woolsey, Holy fire burn areas; mandatory evacuations in place due to mudslides

Friday, November 30, 2018
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Residents in Southern California burn areas saw some mud and debris that covered streets and even some of it got into their homes after a storm hit the region Thursday.

MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- Residents in Southern California burn areas saw some mud and debris that covered streets and even some of it got into their homes after a storm hit the region Thursday.

Steady and light rain began hitting Ventura and Los Angeles counties Wednesday night and extended into the following morning across the Southland. The rain is expected to last through the night and hit intermittently until Friday morning.

Fire-ravaged areas exposed by the Woolsey and Holy fires left residents stockpiling on sandbags to protect their homes.

"These hills have no vegetation on them, they've all been burned off, so they have no integrity. It's the rain and land movement that can cause an issue...," explained L.A. County Fire Department Capt. Brian Jordan.

Homeowners' hard work protecting their houses appeared to pay off as heavy showers moved in and little to no damage was done. Officials still urged drivers to be careful on the slick roads.

"We have rocks coming off the hills. Pay attention to the roads. If you hit one of those rocks, it can change your course of direction and it can cause an accident," Jordan said.

The city of Malibu, which was devastated by the Woolsey Fire, urged its residents to plan ahead in case of evacuation orders. City officials also urged residents to check if their property is at risk for mudslides using a map released by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Shortly after 4 p.m., the city issued an alert about a mudslide reported on Cuthbert Road from Horizon Drive to Busch Drive in Malibu Park. Residents were urged to evacuate "immediately" in the area of Busch Drive to Phillip Avenue. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Responding L.A. County firefighters were working to unclog drains in the area to help clear water runoff from the street.

About 2 inches of rain fell during the rain storm, sending mud and rocks across the roadway. According to Los Angeles County Fire, rocks blocked drains and cause the mud to flow onto the street.

Along the city's coastline, waves filled with black soot were seen crashing against the sand.

Pepperdine University announced that classes were canceled and offices closed on the Malibu campus for Thursday due to the rain and uncertain road conditions. All other campuses remained open, the school said.

The rain prompted the closure of Decker Canyon Road (State Route 23) in both directions between Mulholland Road in Thousand Oaks and Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1) in Malibu, Caltrans said. State Route 2 from Islip Saddle to west of Big Pines is also closed in Los Angeles County.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents of Trabuco Creek. Trabuco Canyon was closed at Rose Canyon and at Robinson Ranch Road.

The late fall storm turned Trabuco Creek into a raging river of debris and mud.

On Wednesday, voluntary evacuations in parts of the Lake Elsinore community became mandatory. The following schools in the area were closed Thursday: Rice Canyon Elementary, Withrow Elementary, Luiseño School and Terra Cotta Middle School. Lakeside High School is open because its location is away from the mandatory evacuation zones.

Later Thursday, one neighborhood was inundated with mud-covered streets and about a half foot of water and debris flowed into some homes.

Resident Christopher Smith was in his garage when the mudslide hit his residence.

"We're so far from the mountain - we're about a mile or so from there. We didn't expect any of this," he said. "It was just a boom. Just a wall of water coming in through the back door, just kind of ran out. I just opened everything up and then everything started kind of flooding up, so I closed everything back up so it stopped the water from coming in."

His neighborhood was one of the areas not under evacuation because of how far they are from the burn areas. But Smith said it's a lesson learned.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Amorose, Alberhill, Glen Ivy A, Glen Ivy B, Glen Eden, Grace, Horsethief A, Laguna A, Matri, McVicker A, Rice and Withrow A.

State Route 38 is closed in both directions from Valley of the Falls Drive to Lake Williams Drive in San Bernardino County due to rock and debris flow.

The storm brought a mix of mud, water and debris from Lake Elsinore to north Glen Ivy but no major damage into the night.The worst of the mudslides appeared to be coming out of Rice Canyon, but a channel built behind several homes on Dale Court appeared to keep the mud away from the area's properties.

The Holy Fire ripped through the area in August in a blaze that charred nearly 23,000 acres.

Sandbags and K-rails are in place, and officials said a warning will be sent out in the event of a mudslide.

For residents in burn areas, the fear of mudslides is real. Last January, mudslides in the community of Montecito in Santa Barbara County destroyed more than 100 homes and killed 21 people.

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