Residents voice concerns over past, present and future flooding

Glendale director of public works Steve Zurn fields questions from concerned local residents on the what his department will be doing in the future to protect them from flood and debris flows.

By Mary O’Keefe

Last night, local residents heard updates on what the recent rains did to Deukmejian Wilderness Park and what to expect in the future.

“It really is just an update for residents. We thought [community members] were wondering what is going on after the rains,” said Steve Zurn, director of Glendale Public Works.

Zurn said although the recent rains did not cause any severe damage residents need to continue to be vigilant.

Representatives from Los Angeles County Public Works attended the meeting to share information on how the debris basins worked during the recent storms.

“They performed well. They were a saving grace for us,” Zurn reported.

There had been some concerns about the trucks driving up and down local streets hauling the mud and debris from the county to the Dunsmuir landfill. A number of residents were worried about the shifts the independent truckers are working and the fatigue they might have.

County and city officials assured residents they were monitoring the drivers’ hours.

Another concern was the weight of the debris in the trucks and brake failure.

Officials assured residents that the vehicles are monitored on a regular basis and that they carry seven yards of material in a ten-yard truck so as not to put undo stress on the brakes.

Zurn said public works had received some complaints about the trucks. Although officials had warned residents of the trucks during meetings before the rain the actuality of the noise and traffic is setting in.

“When you get into the 24/7 operations it can wear on you,” Zurn said.

He added that the complaints have been few and the residents have been corporative and supportive.

The county is looking for additional landfills but specific protocols must be followed.

“Our director Gail Faber is speaking with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to see if we can’t speed up the process to free up more landfills,” said Gary Bozé, spokesman for L.A. County Public Works in an earlier interview.

The city and county had many meetings to explain what public works, law enforcement and fire would do to prepare for the flooding and mud flow they were certain would be the result of the barren hillsides after the Station Fire. At each meeting they reminded the community that the danger would not end with one or two rain storms but would take about four to five years of constant monitoring.

Reforestation was a topic that was addressed at the meeting as well. Residents wanted to know when the wilderness park would be open and if reforestation was an option.

Park officials attempted to explain why that process would not work in the park but added they would have a separate meeting concerning how and when the park will reopen.

County public works estimated, a week ago, that 900,000 cubic feet of debris slid onto Ocean View Boulevard during the last rains.

“We are always on guard on the ground and in the air,” he said.

A similar informational meeting was held on Tuesday at a Canyonside home.

A conflict between one of the landowners and the Crescenta Valley Water District was a main topic of discussion. In dispute is a road that the water district built some years ago. Most of the residents felt that the road changed the natural flow of rainwater causing much of the flooding that the area has experienced. At Tuesday’s meeting, the county requested and was granted permission by key property owners to investigate the allegations.

Guest speakers Dave Ford of Southern California Edison and Stephen Dunn from Los Angeles County Department of Public Works shared information on transferring existing power lines in the area underground to mitigate future fire concerns.

Residents told the officials they were concerned that firefighters would not respond to their homes during a fire in the Briggs Terrace area for fear of falling electrical wires.

Paul Novak representing Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office, fielded complaints about public works website. Before, during and after the evacuation notices many residents went to the website but there was no information available. At every meeting prior to the flooding, representatives from public works told residents to get flooding and evacuation updates from the Coordinated Agency Recovery Effort, C.A.R.E. website. However that website did not always list the addresses subject to evacuation