Foothill area homes evacuated in Southland storm

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Molly Peterson/KPCC

Deputy Chief Mike Metro, of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, addresses the media about potential mudslides in the areas denuded by last fall's Station Fire.

Homes were evacuated in La Canada Flintridge today as intense rain caused a catch basin to fill up. Some 83 homes in the San Fernando Valley were also evacuated. The rain was the first in a series expected to hit the Southland this week. Areas most threatened by the rainfall were in the fire-denuded foothill communities.

Updated at 8:43 p.m. | Permalink The bridge damaged by heavy debris flow on Canyon Crest Road in Altadena has been checked out by a Caltrans engineer and is reopening. About 300 residents who access their homes via the bridge were temporarily held back while crews cleaned up and investigated the damage. KPCC Wire Services

Updated at 7:08 p.m. | Permalink With the exception of 21 homes in the Riverwood area still effected by obstructed roadways, all residents of Alpine Village, Zachaou Canyon, Haines Canyon and Blanchard Canyon are being allowed to return home. LAFD and Public Works crews are currently using earthmoving equipment to secure access to the Riverwood neighborhood. Inspections will start soon on arterial roads within the Sepulveda Flood Control Basin, before opening them back up. KPCC staff

Updated at 6:40 p.m. | Permalink Crews are working to clear debris that ensnared a flatbed truck on a narrow road, blocking access to a remote canyon neighborhood in Altadena. Los Angeles County fire Captain Steve Scheidemantle says the neighborhood of 300 homes in the city of Altadena become isolated Monday after the debris being carried downstream stacked up against a small bridge and was diverted onto an access road. Scheidemantle says the estimated 800 residents of the community have power and water and that he does not believe there is any imminent need for an evacuation. Several dozen residents on their way back to the neighborhood were unable to get past the obstruction and return home. Scheidemantle did not know the condition of the bridge that had been struck by the debris flow. The Associated Press.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. | Permalink Southern California Edison crews were working as of 5 p.m. to restore power to 53,397 customers that lost service due to the storm. Areas in Los Angeles and Orange counties:

  • La Canada: 2,503 customers;
  • Manhattan Beach, 1,400
  • Santa Ana, 1,644
  • Calabasas, 1,235
  • West Hollywood, 419
  • South Pasadena: 382
  • Rancho Palos Verdes, 121 and
  • Torrance: 516
    Other SCE areas with outages include:
  • Arrowhead communities in San Bernardino County: 2,585 customers
    In Riverside County:
  • Desert Hot Springs, 391 customers
  • Corona, 1,660 customers and
  • Hemet, 147 customers.

    Updated at 6:11 p.m. | Permalink Residents in the Nichols Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills were without power after a large pine tree fell onto power lines earlier today. L.A. Department of Water and Power crews were on the scene as of 5:30 p.m. Frank Stoltze/KPCC

    Updated at 5:56 p.m. | Permalink Tonight's Open Space Committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. in San Juan Capistrano has been canceled after the weather knocked out power in City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto. The city's Parks, Recreation and Equestrian Commission meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at 25925 Camino Del Avion will be held as scheduled.

    Updated at 5:55 p.m. | Permalink Authorities have lifted all evacuation orders in the Paradise Valley area of La Canada Flintridge, a sheriff's spokeswoman reported.

    Updated at 5:40 p.m. | Permalink U.S. Coast Guard crews rescued several crews of boats caught in the storm that swept over the Southland this afternoon. No serious injuries were reported, but mariners were warned that gale-force winds and swells up to about 25 feet are possible over the next few days. A Coast Guard helicopter was keeping watch over a 56-foot sailboat beset by strong winds and waves off Santa Cruz Island as the crew tried to make its way to a safe port, Lt. j.g. Tyler Stutin said. Another Coast Guard crew was towing to port a commercial fishing boat that lost power about 12 miles west of Point Fermin, and a commercial towing company was helping a disabled 30-foot sailboat make its way back to Ventura Harbor, he said. A Coast Guard environmental team was monitoring a 42-foot pleasure boat that sank at Berth 85 in Los Angeles Harbor, because of the possibility of oil and fuel leaking into the harbor. KPCC Wire Services

    Updated at 5:34 p.m. | Permalink Authorities have rescued four teenagers trapped by rising water in a Southern California storm drain as powerful rains pounded the region. Victorville police say one of the teens called police Monday and said they were hanging from a ladder leading to a manhole cover, but did not know their exact location. The teens were rescued after a San Bernardino County sheriff who was looking for them heard their cries for help. Police say the teens — aged 19, 17, 16 and 15 — had been trapped by a 6-foot-tall wall of rushing cold water while walking in the drain. Victorville police spokeswoman Karen Hunt did not know why the teens were in the drain, but said it was commonly used as a shortcut to a park. The Associated Press

    Updated at 5:08 p.m. | Permalink Los Angeles County fire spokesman Mark Savage said the catch basin, designed to trap mud and debris while keeping water flowing, no longer offered the neighborhood a buffer of safety. Evacuations were ordered about 1:30 p.m. amid a downpour. By about 3 p.m., the rain had let up, but Savage said it was unclear how long the evacuations would last. With nearly a week of rain forecast, the potential for slides was far from over. The second evacuation order came about 3:30 p.m. and involved 83 homes in northeast San Fernando Valley foothill neighborhoods, including Riverwood Ranch, Alpine Village, and Zachaou, Haines and Blanchard canyons. A shelter was set up at the Sunland Park Recreation Center at 8651 Foothill Blvd., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department, which urged residents to call 311 for the latest information on evacuation orders. Elsewhere, firefighters were busy dealing with a myriad of storm-related calls, including toppled trees, downed power lines, a partial roof collapse of a business in the industrial area southeast of downtown Los Angeles and traffic collisions on rain-slick roads. Southern California Edison reported more than 44,000 customers were without power by mid-afternoon in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Only a handful of outages were reported in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's coverage area, however. Los Angeles Fire Chief Millage Peaks, speaking at a news conference with the mayor, said calls for help spiked when the rain started falling, and crews were monitoring probable trouble spots. ``We've got swiftwater rescue teams, we've got urban search-and-rescue teams that are pre-deployed into the valley area at this time and ready to respond," Peaks said. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa assured Angelenos that the city's public safety agencies were prepared after months of planning. ``We've had some 19 agencies working together with the community to alert them of the potential rain and mudslides that could come later on after those devastating fires," he said. ``We think we're about as ready for the rains that will be coming as we can be.'' Fire Station 81 in Panorama City was serving as the command post for a number of city agencies. The August-September Station Fire, the biggest in Los Angeles County history, has left about a third of the Angeles National Forest nearly bare and prone to mud and debris flows. Protecting a roughly 20-mile string of neighborhoods bordering the burn area is a network of 28 catch basins.

    Picken's Canyon Debris Basin

    Molly Peterson talks with Nalini Lasiewicz above the Picken's debris basin in La Canada Flintridge.
    Geologist have warned that rainfall rates exceeding an inch per hour could cause slides, and National Weather Service forecasters say rates up to 1.25 inches per hour are possible in spots tonight. Rainfall totals from today's storm were expected to be 1-3 inches across coastal and valley areas, 3-5 in the foothills and mountains, and 3-6 inches in the area of the Station Fire. A flash flood watch -- meaning conditions may develop that lead to dangerous flash flooding -- went into effect in the burn areas at 10 a.m., but the worst of the first storm appeared to have passed by late afternoon. The ground is already saturated, fire officials said, and there will be no time to dry out. Another storm is expected Tuesday afternoon, with the heaviest downpours forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, with still more rain is possible through the end of the week. ``So far the damage has been light, but we expect as the week progresses that this will become an issue,'' Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said. ``My request to the public is that if police officers ask you to evacuate, please do. If you do not, you not only put yourself at peril, but you put the brave police officers and firefighters who may have to respond to rescue you also in peril. So it's not just about you.'' Fire and flood control officials -- and local residents -- have set up sandbag and concrete barriers along a 20-mile line between Pasadena and Pacoima. Waterspouts off the coast were possible tonight, and up to three feet of snow could fall above the 6,000-foot level in the mountains. Offshore, gale-force winds and ocean swells nearing 25 feet were expected, which could cause severe hazards on west-facing beaches.
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