Flood, mudslides may be coming


Photos By Charly SHELTON


It was standing room only in the Rosemont Middle School auditorium on Tuesday night as residents attended  “What’s Next – The Aftermath of the Station Fire” meeting sponsored by Crescenta Valley Town Council, Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce,  Crescenta Valley Fire Safe Council and the Crescenta Valley Community Association. What residents heard may not have calmed any nerves but did offer a sense of what to expect this winter, and next, and how to get ready.

Among the speakers was Susan Cannon from the U.S. Geological Survey, who spoke about Tuesday’s release of the agency’s study concerning the vulnerability of communities which include those at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains.

“We did our models as if the basins are empty and later when filled. This is our worse case [scenario] when all basins are full,” Cannon said as a slide came on the screen depicting mudslides in almost every area at the base of the mountains.

Audience members asked for clarification as to where the mudslides would occur according to her map. Roger Young, president of the fire safe council, grabbed a laser pointer.

“This is Briggs Terrace, this is Pickens Canyon and this is my house,” he said.

Cannon pointed out that with the types of flooding and mudslides the model predicts, if one street is affected in a neighborhood, all streets will be affected.

“If you live in these areas expect to leave several times this winter, and next winter,” Cannon predicted.

The USGS model evaluated the effects of a three hour duration rain storm, one year recurrence thunderstorm and a 12-hour duration, two year recurrence storm. The findings stated, “triggered by storm rainfall, debris flows can travel quickly – faster than a grown person can run – creating a dangerous situation that may occur with little to no notice.”

“It’s important that when you are told to evacuate you go,” Cannon said.

That warning was echoed throughout the night’s meeting by CV Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Silversparre and L.A. County Fire’s Stephanie English.

Chris Stone, assistant deputy director of Los Angeles Public Works Water Resources Division, explained what his department has been doing and what they plan to do as winter approaches.

He reported that public work’s employees had been to about 80 homes in the Briggs Terrace area and along the Pine Glen Road area and advised residents on everything from how many sandbags they will require to where K-rails may be placed.   K-rails are three-foot tall cement barriers that public works will be placing along several roads throughout the Crescenta Valley area to divert the flow of water from homes.

“Expect these K-rails to be in place for up to five years,” Stone said.

He added that the threat of flooding and mudflow does not end with this winter but will be a concern for several winters to come.

“We plan to have most of these [K-rails] in by Oct. 15. That is when we believe the storm season begins,” he said.

Stone added that his crews have been working on cleaning the debris basins but still had a few to complete, including those near Starfall and Pinelawn drives. He said that he expected those to be cleared within 30 days, and Pickens Canyon cleared within 60 days.

Any resident who is concerned whether they need sandbags or how many they need are advised to contact public works, Stone said. “We don’t want you to place the sandbags and then find out you have created a problem for your neighbor.”

Public work engineers will come to homes and evaluate where the bags need to be placed to help the entire neighborhood, he added.

“Sandbags will be available at the three county fire stations in the area,” he said.

The meeting also had representatives on hand from other agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, Air Quality Management District, So. California Edison, Crescenta Valley Water District, Natural Resource Conservation Service, insurance representatives, a congressional representative both from the state and federal levels and the Allied Waste Company.

The turnout was so impressive and the interest so great that CV Town Council President Steve Pierce, who oversaw the meeting, said that there may be more meetings like this in the future.

“If we need another meeting, we will arrange one.  We are all in this together and we have to work together,” he said.

A list of emails and phone contact numbers are listed below:

Coordinated Agency Recovery Effort (C.A.R.E.) has links to many emergency agencies.www.dpwcare.org

Cal Emergency Management Agency can give residents tips on how to be prepared for flooding and fire fallout. www.oes.ca.gov

Air Quality Management Control has daily air quality ratings for the area and advice on what to do when the air is rated unhealthy.   www.aqmd.gov

L.A. County Hot Line (800) 214-4020

Allied Waste Customer Service: For questions concerning where garbage bins should be placed on pick up day in neighborhoods lined with K-rails.

Alert LA County allows county residents to join an emergency mass notification system that is designed to alert residents during emergencies.  http://lacounty.gov  Click on Alert LA County.

Crescenta Valley Fire Safe Council: Those who wish to be on the council’s phone alert system will be notified during emergencies of everything from general updates to road closures and evacuation areas. E-mail your number to rogerlyoung@earthlink.net.

CV Sheriff’s Station emergency phone system: If you wish to be on the 911 reverse system and you were in the evacuation area during the Station Fire but did not receive an evacuation phone notification, contact Sgt. Mike Telles at (818) 248-3464.

Volunteer information for Glendale: (818) 548-2782.

Glendale Community Hot Line: (818) 548-6464

National Flood Insurance Program: (888) 379-9531 www.floodsmart.gov

Local debris basins are cleared as the county prepares for mud flows and floods this winter due to the Station Fire.
Local debris basins are cleared as the county prepares for mud flows and floods this winter due to the Station Fire.