Southern California

Evacuated Mobile Home Residents Return to Muddy Mess

Residents of a Santa Clarita mobile home park returned to their homes Thursday after evacuating when mud and debris flowed into their properties during a powerful storm.

The evacuation began just before 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Crescent Valley Mobile Estates at 25300 The Old Road, said Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Simms. Crews using front-end loaders worked to remove mud and debris overnight as residents waited for word on when they could return home.

Homeowners of Crescent Valley Mobile Estates had anticipated the mudflow with dread since the Calgrove fire last June scorched the Newhall Pass hillside above. Using a backhoe, crews tried to keep storm drains clear where the runoff from a ravine goes underneath a canyon road, but the debris flow proved too much.

There is now a plan to prevent a recurrence, but residents are wondering how long it will take and why it hasn't already been done.

Neighbors said they were warned of the increased fire risk after the June fire and told of plans to install protective concrete K-rail.

"We've been waiting for that for awhile," resident Cheryl Petersen said.

The evacuations were voluntary and represented 10 of the 80 homes at the mobile home park, said Bob Spencer of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. The homes were considered at-risk of harm from mud and debris from the Calgrove burn area.

"Residents evacuated nine of the homes and one gentleman said he was going to stay but he did send his family away," Spencer said.

Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Co. workers disconnected utility service to the nine evacuated homes, he said.

"The flood, when it came down, it was crazy. It got into our driveway and it's pretty hard to move now. Some of our cars got stuck too," said Newhall resident Jose Estrada.

Two mobile homes believed in harm's way were moved to safety on different pads within the mobile home park, Spencer said.

"Maybe a month or two ago we had a meeting with the department or whatever and they were talking about the El Nino coming. So, we all as neighbors have been getting prepared," said Newhall resident Jay Uebelacker.

Residents were earlier told to move vehicles outside the park in case mud and debris filled the entrance but county crews cleared the area and planned to remain at the park through the night to clear inlets as needed, Spencer said.

Officials had been meeting with the residents since September to consider what could result when heavy winter rains swept mud and debris down the steep canyon, he said. "The residents were very aware that this situation may arise."

Deputies from the sheriff's Santa Clarita Station assisted with the evacuations, said Ken Kondo of the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Santa Clarita's Newhall Community Center at 22421 Market St. Only two residents were staying at the shelter, Spencer said. The rest were staying with friends and family.

"The residents are well-aware it could repeat all winter," Spencer said.

The Calgrove Fire burned about 415 acres in Santa Clarita, starting June 24, north of the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway and southeast of Calgrove Boulevard in Santa Clarita, according to a Santa Clarita city official. 

Patrick Healy, Beverly White and City News Service contributed to this report.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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