Rain came and went, but mud stayed

By Mary O’Keefe

Even though it rained all last week Crescenta Valley did not see the mudflows that were expected but officials say that doesn’t mean they won’t happen next time.

“We caution everyone that winter is still on,” said Gary Bozé, spokesman for Los Angeles County Public Works.

About 4½ inches to 4¾ inches of rain fell along the burned area of the foothills, according to the weather station at Rosemont Middle School. The rain although heavy at times was not the deluge that occurred a few weeks prior causing mud to flow into the backyards of local residents.

Evacuations were ordered in La Crescenta and La Cañada but none in Glendale.

“We had no evacuations. Glendale really had no problems. We were monitoring Deukmejian [Wilderness Park] with our web cams. There was very little mud, mostly water,” said Capt. Vince Rifino, Glendale Fire Department.Screen shot 2009-12-18 at 10.20.01 PM

Glendale debris basins also remained clear during and after the storm.

Bozé said public work employees are back at the basins to assess how much needs to be cleaned and to determine if any basins need to be increased in size.

“The K-rails did work pretty well, channeling the water into the streets instead of homes. We did have one storm drain that backed up but our crews were able to dig it out,” Bozé said.

Susan Cannon, geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said the rains came in pulses, not all at once. The three storms that hit the area from Thursday to Saturday gave short breaks between the downpours. That may have helped keep the mud from flowing.

Cannon also warned residents that just because the storms passed without mud damage doesn’t mean the area is out of danger.

“There haven’t been the big storms with high intensity rain yet. We still haven’t had a regional storm that [dumps] several inches in a short amount of time,” she added.

One area that did see mudflow was within the Angeles National Forest along the Angeles Crest Highway. On Saturday afternoon about 90 vehicles were stuck in various mud slides along the ‘Crest.

Montrose Search and Rescue was among the emergency responders to the stuck commuters. The ‘Crest had been closed so the team had to drive around to Big Tujunga Road to Angeles National Forest Highway. Those roads were also closed to the public and the trek was not easy.

Mike Leum, Montrose Search and Rescue member, said the team drove the road to make certain no other vehicles were stuck.

“Caltrans responded with dozers and cleared one lane so the cars that were able to drive out could,” Leum said.

About 20 vehicles were unable to drive out. Drivers and passengers of those vehicles were escorted to nearby Newcomb Ranch where they waited out the rain and mud.

Photo by Steve GOLDSWORTHY On Rock Castle Drive mud and debris piled up behind K-rails installed on the roadway.
Photo by Steve GOLDSWORTHY On Rock Castle Drive mud and debris piled up behind K-rails installed on the roadway.