Cleanup begins after powerful storm slams Southern California – Los Angeles Times

At least four fatalities have been attributed to the storm.

A 55-year-old man was electrocuted by a downed power line Friday in Sherman Oaks on Sepulveda Boulevard just south of Burbank Boulevard.

In Victorville, where many motorists were stranded on flooded streets, rescuers found a person dead inside a submerged vehicle, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Two passengers died in separate crashes on rain-slick Interstate 15 in Mira Mesa and City Heights on Friday, the CHP said.

The drivers involved in the collisions were suspected of driving too fast in the rain, CHP Officer Jake Sanchez said. “In these types of conditions, speed plays a huge factor because if you drive fast it’s very easy to lose control,” he said.

In a sign of the power of the winds, the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to more than 150 reports of downed electrical wires. Authorities urged the public to stay away from power lines and avoid touching any person or thing that has come into contact with one.

More than 100,000 people across Southern California lost power.

There also were multiple swift-water rescues. Several homeless people were rescued along the Los Angeles River, while in the Inland Empire, firefighters plucked motorists stranded in floodwaters.

Evacuation orders were issued Friday for areas where brush fires hit last summer, with officials worried about the potential for mudslides.

Among the areas evacuated was a section of Duarte.

But some residents, like Mike Shane, decided to remain.

Shane started hearing mud flow down his street on Opal Canyon Road on Friday night. “It sounded like a rushing river,” he said.

But he never considered leaving his home, despite the city’s evacuation order. He’s lived in the area 17 years and has seen his share of mudslides, he said.

“There’s no need to go,” said Shane as he stood in front of his house Saturday morning and watched as crews scooped up the thin layer of mud that covered his sidewalk. “I want to be here with my house and dog.”

Shane’s neighbor Rochelle Carpio, standing next to him in white-and-pink pajamas, nodded in agreement.

Carpio and her husband, Yvan, said that this storm wasn’t as bad as previous ones but that in general, they usually don’t listen to evacuation orders.

The Carpio family did, however, have an escape car packed with their 4-month-old baby’s essentials and emergency food in case they had to leave immediately. They said their property isn’t damaged.

About a block away, Cecilia Cruz was bent over her flowers, lifting the sandbags that had guarded them from Friday’s rains. Her hands and shoes were covered in thick mud as she worked.

Cruz went outside at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t find any damage to her house. Previous mudslides from the month prior have been worse, said Cruz, who has lived in the area for eight years.

“The tractors do a good job and are able to remove the mud,” she said, pointing to the layer of wet dirt that covered her drive

The Duarte evacuation order was lifted Saturday morning.

But on Friday night, it was a different scene. The street adjacent to Valley View Elementary School was overflowing with mud, rock and other debris.

As night fell, Austin Fuentes and his mother, Susan, heard the mudslide outside their front door.

“When we started getting heavy rain, we heard the mud flowing outside our house. You hear rocks tumbling and water rushing,” he said. “We’re just crossing our fingers we don’t have to clean up much more mud.”

Fuentes’ father and grandparents evacuated and were staying at a hotel just to be on the safe side.

“My grandparents have heart issues, and we felt it was safer for both of them not to be here,” Fuentes added.

In the San Bernardino County mountains, a landslide the size of three football fields threatened several homes, a fire station and a major road used by hundreds of residents, fire officials said.

Four homes and a San Bernardino County fire station in the unincorporated community of Forest Falls were directly in the path of the hillside, which started moving about 10 a.m. Thursday, fire spokesman Eric Sherwin said.

Two homes were vacant, and residents in the other two homes voluntarily evacuated. Fire officials have removed equipment from the station to protect it from damage, he said.

San Bernardino County road crews were placing concrete barriers along the drive to help divert mud and debris, he said.

Snow levels were anticipated to be 8,000 feet Friday night, lowering to 6,000 feet on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Because of the heavy precipitation, 1 to 2 feet of snow could fall above 8,000 feet in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and 6 to 12 inches above 6,000 feet.

Coastal waters will be dangerous through the weekend. High waves off the coast of Los Angeles County are expected to peak Saturday at 8 to 13 feet.

After a brief respite Sunday, another storm system is expected to move into the region on Monday, bringing several more days of rain, forecasters said.

sonali.kohli@latimes.com

melissa.etehad@latimes.com

michael.finnegan@latimes.com

ALSO

Some Duarte residents stayed home despite evacuation orders 

Portion of southbound 15 Freeway collapses in the Cajon Pass 

Some mighty trees were no match for those winds 

 


UPDATES:

5:15 p.m.: This article was updated with new information about a Ventura County drowning victim.

4:10 p.m.: This article was updated with new comments from utility and Amtrak officials.

3:50 p.m.: This article was updated with new details about power outages and a rescue in Santa Ana.

1:10 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from a witness at a sinkhole in Studio City.

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