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Soaked mountains stay in place

Posted by on Dec 24th, 2010 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Photos by Mary O’KEEFE and Greg COOK Sheriffs patrolled the area heavily over the last few days as rain pounded the foothills. On Wednesday, the worst of the storms hit bringing thunder and lightning along with torrential rain.

By Mary O’KEEFE

Almost 24 hours after evacuation notices were issued, residents are officially allowed back in their homes, although only a few heeded the evacuation warning.

Out of the 147 homes in La Cañada Flintridge and 85 homes in La Crescenta that were given evacuation notices only five families complied with the order to leave, said Capt. Mark Savage of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“Fifty six residents were not home [when notices were given],” Savage said.

He added it was difficult to determine if the residents were gone for the holidays or had left their homes before the deputies arrived.

“So [at best] 61 families is the largest number that could have complied,” Savage said.

The evacuation was lifted at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday after an evaluation by officials at the Unified Command of the weather, the flood control system and roadway access.

During a press conference on Tuesday night fire, sheriff and public works joined County Mayor Michael Antonovich in urging residents to comply if they are part of the mandatory evacuation area.

At that time the storm that had been predicted to hit the foothills was thought to be the largest in 10 years.

But the rainstorm dipped south and saved the brunt of its power for Orange County. The foothills did get their share of downpour however receiving about five inches of rain in the past 24 hours.

Those at the Unified Command monitored the situation all Tuesday night and into Wednesday as the rain cells passed over the area.

It became obvious as more rain pounded the area why it was important for residents to get their vehicles off the street as seen on Ocean View Boulevard. Photo courtesy of Danette ERICKSON

“We were watching the radar and saw all this moisture cells coming in off the coast,” Savage said. “[At one point] we saw a cell develop over the Los Angeles area.  We watched it come over to [this area] It dumped the most intense rain we had all week.”

At the Tuesday press conference L.A. County Department of Public Works Assistant Director Mark Pestrella said the area is considered 100% saturated when there is four days of continuous rain.

“We have had six days,” Pestrella said.

He added that the area is unique because it is some of the youngest geology in the United States and the most erosive.  That young rock, due to natural abuse from faults and the intense heat form the Station Fire followed by the flooding, has broken and washed away.  This clears the way for the large, ancient boulders to break away.

Residents were also reminded to keep their vehicles off the street.  At midnight on Tuesday vehicles that remained parked on the streets in restricted areas were towed.

Susan Cannon from the U.S. Geological Survey warned that the several days of light to moderate rain followed by large thunderstorms that could drench the area was the worse case scenario.  However steady sudden downpours did not happen as predicted.

“Did the residents of this area dodge a bullet? I think so,” Savage said.

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