Skip to comments.California Mudslide Kills One, Damages Homes
Posted on 01/10/2005 4:39:23 PM PST by Libloather
Calif. Mudslide Kills One, Damages Homes
1 hour, 6 minutes ago
By LAURA WIDES, Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES - A huge mudslide furiously crashed down on homes in a coastal hamlet Monday as a deadly Pacific storm hammered Southern California for a fourth straight day, boosting rainfall totals to astonishing levels.
At least one person died and several were injured in the mudslide that pummeled a four-block area of homes in tiny La Conchita, damaging 15 to 20 homes, said Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Tom Kruschke. That brought the death toll in California from the storms to 10.
The hillside cascaded down like a brown river as authorities were evacuating about 200 residents from the area. Trees and vegetation were carried away, leaving huge gashes of raw earth on the bluff.
Some residents made their way from the area clutching pets, luggage or clothing as the huge mass of mud bore down. Some huddled together or cried as they talked on cell phones.
Search and rescue teams were dispatched to look for anyone who may have been buried. Injured people were strapped into gurneys and carried to safety.
La Conchita is a slip of a town pressed between a highway and a towering coastal bluff 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Several houses were damaged by a mudslide there during powerful storms in the 1990s.
The death toll from the storms also includes a 2-year-old girl who slipped from her mother's grasp as rescuers tried to hoist them from a car submerged on a road outside Los Angeles. Avalanches killed two people in Utah and one in Nevada.
From the start of the latest wave of violent weather on Friday through midday Monday, several mountainous areas in Southern California had recorded more than 20 inches of rain, including 26 inches in Nordhoff Ridge in the Ventura County mountains.
The rain comes on the heels of stormy weather that blasted the state earlier in the week.
The average amount of winter rainfall in downtown Los Angeles is 15 inches, but about 21 inches had fallen as of Monday, including a Jan. 9 record of 2.6 inches, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bruce Rockwell.
"I've never seen such a sustained event like this," Rockwell said.
The heavy rainfall was being generated by a sluggish low-pressure system rotating off California and drawing a flow of moisture known as a "Pineapple Express" up from the subtropical Pacific near Hawaii.
To the north in the Sierra Nevada, the storm produced heavy snow during the weekend that stalled an Amtrak train, shut down the airport at Reno, Nev., for the second time in a week, and halted highway travel across the mountain range.
Since Dec. 28, up to 19 feet of snow has fallen at elevations above 7,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, with 6 1/2 feet at lower elevations in the Reno area. Meteorologists said it was the most snow the Reno-Lake Tahoe area has seen since 1916.
The commuter link between Reno and Carson City was closed Sunday by whiteout conditions as wind swept down from the Sierra. With visibility sharply reduced, at least 40 vehicles, including three Nevada Highway Patrol cruisers, skidded into snow drifts, ditches and each other. National Guard members used Humvees to pick up the stuck motorists.
"We're talking real ugly conditions. In 12 years with the NHP I've never seen conditions that bad," Trooper Jeff Bowers said.
Other canyon communities in the Los Angeles area kept a wary eye on the soaked hills.
In Coldwater Canyon, Gary Mehlman and his wife waited anxiously as crews cleared a slide that fell near their home Saturday. They tried to keep their trouble in perspective.
"With all the stuff that's going on in the world with the tsunami this really is only a wrinkle," Gary Mehlman said.
The train of storms that have slammed into California also have spread rain, snow and ice eastward across the nation.
The storms have piled up 10 feet of snow in the Rockies, where three skiers on a family outing were reported missing Monday.
Four snowmobilers were stranded overnight near Steamboat Springs, Colo., after they got stuck. None was injured, but they considered themselves lucky to get out alive Sunday morning.
Jesse Goble and his brother-in-law, J.R. Osborne, started a fire with a stick they saturated in gasoline and lit from a spark plug on one of their machines. They spent the night cutting up a dead tree to feed the flames, sharing a single water bottle with melted snow and four Snickers bars.
"It could have been a lot worse," Goble said. "We were fortunate that it was 20 degrees and mostly clear. A few things different, it would have been a whole different story."
Last week's heavy rain and snow also produced flooding along the Ohio River that has affected communities in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, covering riverside roads and forcing some residents to evacuate.
Los Angeles utility workers Doug Quintal, left, and Eric Lawrence pass a two-story house that collapsed after a mudslide Monday Jan 10, 2005, in the Coldwater Canyon section of Los Angeles. Authorities said a father and his two children were pulled from the rubble of the home. The father had minor injuries. Nine deaths have been linked to a series of storms pounding Southern California that have unleashed flash floods and mudslides, forced evacuations and closed roads and schools. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A bulldozer moves mud and debris off of Ventura Avenue after heavy rainfall fell in the area Monday, Jan. 10, 2005, in Ventura, Calif. (AP Photo/Al Cuizon)
Is there anyway into Ventura this week? Every highway appears to be closed down.
I may keep pinging this message. Is there traffic from Simi Valley?
Question for California freepers...in hillside areas, prone to mudslides, are there any exclusions and/or higher premiums on homeowner's insurance?
i have been pointing out that this is what happens when you live in a blue state.
Highway 101 is closed down?
Doesn't look like it here: http://www.sigalert.com/map.asp?Region=Greater+Los+Angeles
Yes it is closed down in SB VN county lines. There are some points that may close tonight near Gaviotta. Is there any route into Ventura or is Ventura an island?
Ventura is kind of an island due to the raging ventura river at one end and the other blockage to the north.
I don't think any other highways go into ventura.
Actually... there may be one, the 126... but you'll be in for a big detour.
Crap... sorry guys. Didn't realize that link was a mile long. hehe.
A boulder some 25 feet high blocks both lanes of the Topanga Caynon Road, Monday, Jan. 10, 2005, as electrical contractors fix broken power and communication lines in Malibu, Calif. No injures where reported, but the road remains closed. The storm system was blamed for at least nine deaths during the weekend in Southern California, including a man killed when his vehicle plunged into the surf off Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, and a homeless man killed when the hillside where his tent was pitched gave way. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Have a question, the insurance companies have to pay to rebuild these homes that are collapsing, home prices out there are hyperinflated $400K for a home worth maybe $150K so how are the costs determined by the carriers?
Are there special flood and or earthquake policies?
Around here, there is zero insurance coverage for damage due to slides and earth movement such as this - I think that's a pretty common exclusion. Earthquake insurance is available as an option, but slides aren't.
Goodness, those poor people. I will say a prayer for you all in California. Stay safe.
126 is down. I think 118 from Simi is still open but for how long?
I have no idea. How much is a 50,000 dollar house appraised at 500,000 really worth?
Just to clarify - I'm not in CA. I abandoned it 10 years ago.
This rain is crazy.
Last night a flooded intersection almost claimed my car... the car in front of me plowed into the water and i slammed the brakes and swerved into the left lane where it was higher ground. The car in front of me was almost to the door handles in water, swamping his Accord. I had water coming over the hood and the engine started choking a little... but the Quattro all wheel drive got me through the torrent of water. Lowered cars + high water = bad news!