“There’s still stuff up there,” say geologists. Rain may bring it down.
By Mary O’KEEFE
If last Friday’s rain taught the residents of Crescenta Valley anything it was that they were not overreacting in their concern about mudflow and flooding.
The rain that came last week was exactly what residents, public works and U.S. Geological Survey officials warned about: a short and powerful downpour. Residents again face a similar chance of rain as they did last week with a 20% chance of precipitation on Friday, according to National Weather Service at press time.
“This looks to be an energetic storm,” said Bill Hoffer, spokesman for the weather service.
He added where the rain will hit will not be clear until the storm comes onshore.
“It looks like a healthy [storm] but is it going to kick for the shore line or down our coast. We just don’t know yet,” he said.
In the meantime, residents along with county and Glendale city officials are learning what they can from last week’s mudflow and applying those lessons.
“City manager Jim Starbird and public works Steve Zurn went up Ocean View Boulevard to see the mudflow. Their goal was to see what worked and what didn’t work with diverting the mudflow,” said Ritch Wells, Glendale public information officer.
The Glendale area of Crescenta Valley was not hit hard by the mudflow but city officials know it is not a matter of if but when that area will cope with weather issues. To keep an eye on things in the canyon of Deukmejian Wilderness Park, the city has set up four mudflow cameras. The cameras are activated and feed live shots into the city’s emergency operations center.
“There is still plenty of stuff up there,” said Susan Cannon, geologist with USGS.
She added the material that flowed down last week was the top, easily eroded soil like ash and clay.
“Next time, the run off will be faster,” she warned.
Gary Bozé, spokesman for Los Angeles County Public Works, said crews were out during the rainstorm last week and, like Glendale Public Works, are on call during potential rainfall.
“The main thing now is to recheck the sandbags,” he said.
Bozé advised residents who had prepared their homes with sandbags before to review those placed and add more if needed.
Crescenta Valley Sheriffs, L.A. County Fire and Glendale police and fire are in constant contact with the public works department of their area. “Members of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, as recently as today, have met with the L.A. County Department of Public Works, the Fire Department, the USGS, National Weather Service, California Highway Patrol, California Emergency Management Agency, our department’s Emergency Operations Bureau and the city of La Cañada Flintridge. Other meetings have included Glendale police and fire, L.A. Police and fire, the American Red Cross, the U.S. Forest Service and other groups including other LASD stations which may be affected with debris flow,” said Capt. David Silversparre of the CV Sheriff’s Station.
He added the meetings are all part of an effort to ensure a unified command for the inevitable emergency.
County and city officials remind residents to continue to be vigilant and continue to contact their agencies with any questions.
The rain came fast and furious on Friday and though there were no mandatory evacuations in the area some residents chose to leave while others came home to something completely unexpected.
Less than half an inch fell during the night: Rosemont Middle School rain station measured 0.42 inches. It may have not been a lot of rain but it seemed to all come down within minutes.
“It just ripped through here and strengthened really quickly,” Hoffer said.
Public works employees were out in force during the night and early morning hours to assess and clean mudflow areas. Mud and debris filled many streets in the Pinecrest and Canyonside areas. Previously cleaned debris basins are now filled with mud.
Alice Khatchooni came home late Thursday night to a driveway and yard full of mud. Los Angeles County Public Works had been to the Starfall Drive residence and laid out the best placement of sandbags. The home butts up against the side of a mountain that is public works land. The homeowner placed the required sandbags along the perimeter of her front yard and on top of the concrete block fence between the home and the mountain.
“The fence and the sandbags are [now] gone,” Khatchooni said.
The mud brought trees and rocks down the side and buried the fence and sandbags. There was about four feet of mud in her side yard, covering almost her entire side entry gate.
Khatchooni’s neighbor Drew Arrendondo had shoveled a path to the Khatchooni front door.
“It was really difficult to shovel. The mud and ash mixture is almost like an adobe texture,” Arrendondo said. “It all happened so fast. It’s a mess.”
For advice and help from L.A. County Public Works, contact (800) 214-4020 or visit their website at www.dtwcare.org. For the city of Glendale, visit the website at www.ci.glendale.ca.us or contact the city at (818) 548-6464.
Sandbags are still available at Dunsmore Park and Two Strike Park. Crescenta Valley Town Council President Steve Pierce said new dirt has been trucked up to Two Strike and sandbags are available for residents to fill.
Bonners Rental Center in Tujunga has equipment that can help clear mud debris and they have sandbags for sale. They will deliver to local residents. Bonners is located at 6935 Foothill Blvd., Tujunga. (818) 951-9117.
Anyone with information on flood or mudflow safety equipment or if you come across a tip you want to share with your neighbors e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at (818) 248-2740.