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Highland braces for more rain and the potential for more mudslides

December 27, 2010 |  7:57 pm

The city of Highland, already reeling from mudslides caused by last week's storms, braced Monday for additional rain expected this week.

Fire crews worked through the weekend to clean up debris and place sandbags throughout the community to prepare for possible additional flooding, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Bill Peters.

Five residences were destroyed and 73 damaged last week from mudflows caused by the severe storm system. Fire officials said 30 homes remain threatened, and mandatory evacuations were still in effect Monday evening.

“We’ve been working on debris removal and mitigations since 10 o’clock last Wednesday morning,” Peters said. He said crews have placed more than 100,000 sandbags and have added K-rail walls to divert mud from homes.

“The hillsides are still very, very wet; and with more rain coming, we’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s the truth,” Peters said.

Crews were working to clear about 50,000 cubic yards of debris left in the catch basins. Peters said that the forestry department has sent about 40 crews of 14 people each from all over Southern California to work on debris removal and preparations. The city has also coordinated with at least seven other agencies, including the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's inmate crews, to assist with cleanup efforts.

“You prep the best you can,” he said. “The drains were clean and everything was OK, but the system was overwhelmed by the massive amount of mud and debris that came out of the mountain. We see that across Southern California at various times at foothill communities: You get enough rain with enough debris -- hardly anything is made to handle that -- and when that backs up and overflows, we have the situation that we have now.”


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