A community known to be severely affected by rain remains at risk as a winter storm slams the region and puts Lytle Creek in danger of major flooding. Kate Larsen reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, 2014.
The San Bernardino County Fire Department had six strike teams ready to go overnight in case roads or homes began showing signs of flooding in the flood-prone area of Lytle Creek Friday night.
Specially trained swiftwater rescue personnel were deployed to the area early Friday as steady rains raised the threat of overflowing creeks and mudslides.
In Lytle Creek (map), about 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles, flooding and rockslides developed early Friday as the region received its first significant rainfall in months. Teams of specially trained rescuers were deployed in the area, where past storms have led to floods and fire-rescue responses.
"Lytle Creek is notorious," said Chris Prater, of the San Bernardino County Fire Department. "There's a creek that runs through town. Not only the creek, but the roads have been notorious for flooding."
The creek is rushing with water for the first time this season.
"You can hear the rumble of the rocks going through, so it's changed dramatically," Lytle Creek resident Jared Smith said.
Smith braved the storm Friday night to go to the town's only bar. In year's past, rain had washed out parts of the road, leaving residents trapped.
"We run into issues when we get debris such as logs, large boulders that clog it up. When that happens, the water can't flow out like it's supposed to and then you start to flood our neighborhoods," a fire official told NBC4's Kate Larsen.
Water collected in several backyards in the foothill community in Angeles National Forest. A pothole that developed overnight on the southbound 15 Freeway near Kenwood Road caused tire damage to several vehicles.
The storm exceeded expectations of many residents.
"We're going to get flooded," a resident told NBC4. "If somebody walked over there you'd go, 'Whoop,' right down."
In neighboring Devore, small rocks tumbled from saturated hillsides onto roads.
Heavy flooding also was reported near the mountain town of Wrightwood, prompting several road closures.
Forecasts called for the storm to last through Saturday, bringing some relief amid a long-running drought, and to spread east into similarly parched neighboring states. California's rain totals are far below normal and it will take a series of drenching storms to make a dent in a statewide drought that is among the worst in recent history.