Crews Work to Clear Roads After Flash Flooding in Mountains

One resident of Forest Falls described the flood as a 20 foot wall of water with rocks and boulders coming up over the bank

Search-rescue teams responded to reports of a trapped individual near Mt. Baldy Monday after  thunderstorms that created fatal flash floods and mudslides over the weekend led to hundreds of stranded residents and campers Monday in mountain communities across the Southland, officials said.

Sheriff's department personnel were searching in the San Bernardino County mountain area after receiving a report that an individual was trapped at Mt. Baldy Road and Glendora Ridge, in the Bear Flats area.

The search went on as county officials worked for hours to reopen several roads in the communities of Forest Falls and Oak Glen which were closed because of debris and run-off from Sunday's storms. A previously buried section of Valley Falls Drive was reopened so stranded cars could drive out of the area. The west side of Oak Glen Road was also cleared and reopened.

"It looked like the Mississippi River to me, because I'm from St. Louis. It was getting up as high as the car," Michael Torretti said. "They sent some people out to help us transport the kids because the water was going too hard for me to carry my kids and not be washed down."

San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Ryan Beckers told the Associated Press that all residents of the two towns were accounted for and no injuries were reported.

Around 2,500 residents of the two towns were trapped and unable to get out because of the thick mud and debris brought in by the harsh weather conditions, the AP reports.

One resident of Forest Falls described the flood as a 20 foot wall of water with rocks and boulders coming up over the bank.

"My dogs floated away in their dog house, trees coming down shearing power poles off, house shaking ground shaking," he said. "Pretty terrifying."

The storm dumped up to five to six inches of rain in an hour on Forest Falls, fire officials said.

"That's roughly a debris flow that was about 15 feet high by a quarter mile long," said Marc Peebles of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Damaging flash floods hit Forest Falls 15 years ago, killing one person and sending debris plowing through homes and cabins in the summer of 1999, the AP reported.

One man died Sunday after his vehicle was swept off a mountain road during flooding during flooding near Mt. Baldy, authorities said.

The City of Highland was also beset by significant flooding caused by the storms, with parts of Del Rosa Avenue, Victoria Avenue, Sterling Avenue, Baseline Road and 5th Street impacted, Cal Fire said. Officials are currently in the process of surveying the area for damage. No injuries in the area have been reported.

Campers in foothill and mountain regions were were warned by authorities of the need to the evacuate, but some who waited too long had to be rescued.

Officials set up temporary shelters for campers who were stranded because of the storms.

Ronnie Morales was caught in a flash flood where he was camping in the wilderness north of Azusa. Morales said crews came to alert him just in time to save his life.

"All of the water was just coming through here," Morales said. "If they wouldn't have came within 30 seconds it would've got us walking."

Monsoon moisture moving into the region caused the increased storm activity, but the conditions are likely to clear out by Monday afternoon for sunshine and clearer skies.

Gadi Schwartz and Lolita Lopez contributed to this report.

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