Mudslide Kills One, Leaves Thousands Stranded
Amid the drought and fires in Northern California, the Southern part of the state is experiencing quite a different string of weather. Torrential downpour over the first week of August caused mudslides to cover much of San Bernardino County and others. The storm released 3 ½ inches of rain on Forest Falls and almost five inches on Mount Baldy.
About 1,500 residents of Oak Glen and 1,000 in Forest Falls have been trapped. Although no injuries were reported in those areas, the flooding claimed the life of one in Mount Baldy. The car of 48-year-old Joo Hwan Lee of El Segundo was found overturned and flooded on Sunday.
The floods and mudslides are quick, sometimes dumping six to eight feet of mud on the roads in just minutes. In Forest Falls, a wall of mud 15 feet high and 75 feet wide was reported.
Although reports claim more than 500 children and adults are stranded at a Forest Falls campground, there are conflicting reports; according to a press release from the campground, “Reported stories of stranded campers are erroneous. All guests at Forest Home are safe and secure.” Three of the five facilities are closed due to the rain, but two remain open and campers “are enjoying scheduled activities without interruption.”
Southern California Edison reported arcing power lines caused fires on utility poles following the storms. Nearly 400 customers were without power until Sunday morning when most had power restored.
According to the Associated Press, authorities made reverse 911 calls to urge residents to stay put while crews cleared the roads with bulldozers.
Local resident, Michael Scully, admits the flood “is the worst we’ve had since at least 1969.”
Flash flood warnings went far beyond Southern California Monday morning. Parts of Las Vegas, Nevada and Albuquerque, New Mexico continued under the warning after a week of heavy rain. A freeway in Phoenix was closed for hours due to a fallen cable line Sunday.
The western half of the United States has been hit various other times with destruction-filled flooding. A flash flood hit the same Southern California area 15 years ago causing one death and five injuries. Fifteen homes were destroyed by boulders and trees during the 1999 storm.
Less than a year ago, Colorado experienced a devastating flood. Firestorm CEO and Colorado resident, Harry Rhulen, reflected on the damage at the time:
“One-hundred miles of roads were gone,” said Rhulen. “Attempts were made to funnel traffic onto streets that were simply never designed to handle the increased level of traffic. Even if employees can get to a work location – traveling over a now 2-hour commute from one that may have been no more than 15 minutes – there is no business or work to go to.”
“Employers and businesses must consider how to continue operations after any natural disaster – it is vital to the community that financial stability of residents be supported. The option to work remotely is not feasible for many – underground cables have washed away, and for many there is no power,” Harry continued, “and some employees have lost their homes and everything they own.”
The 1,000-year rain and flood event in Colorado left 19,000 families homeless.
“We’re not talking about flooded basements – entire homes were submerged,” recalled Mr. Rhulen.
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