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Laguna Canyon residents help rescue women, children from truck surrounded by rising water [Updated]

December 22, 2010 | 11:24 am

On Sun Valley Road in Laguna Canyon, Matthew Pike, 47, executive chef for USC’s Athletic Department, was awakened at 3 a.m. by the sounds of hysterical screaming.

“I grabbed a flashlight and scanned the street and discovered three women and two children in the back of a pickup truck surrounded by rising floodwaters,” Pike said. “They were screaming and crying, ‘Help us. Please help us.’ ”

As logs and rocks hit them, Pike and his sons, Dylan, 18, and Carter, 20, waded across the torrent barefoot and in shorts.

“We tied a garden hose to a pillar of my house and attached it to a fence post across the street, then got them across one at a time,” Pike said.

Dylan said one of the two children was a young boy recovering from surgery related to a broken leg. He picked up the boy with one arm and then with the other grabbed hold of the hose, which was stretched taut across the street.

“He was practically choking me as I carried him,” Dylan said. “I said, ‘Hold on young man. You’re going to be all right.’”

"Then we heard the sounds of barking dogs from a nearby bed-and-biscuit canine daycare center called Dog Ranch,” Pike said. “Me and my boys pried open a fence, went inside and helped leash at least 25 dogs, then walked them to a van, which drove them out of the canyon to safety."

By 10:45 a.m., the floodwaters were gone, leaving the street covered with mud and debris.

Pike pointed across the street to a Jeep perched on a fire hydrant and said, “That’s my car. My son’s Dodge Charger is submerged under a bridge nearby.”

[Updated, 12:30 p.m.: One of the women the Pikes rescued was Kristen Cook, 48, who three months ago moved into a small house across the street with her children.

Cook remembers having hosted a cheery dinner for friends Tuesday night and later being somewhat concerned about warnings of bad weather on the way.

“At about 10 p.m. I walked down to the creek to see how it was doing, and everything looked fine,” Cook said. “At 2 a.m., I went out to check it again, and it was a little higher. But not that bad.

She was awakened at 3 a.m. by a telephone call from her landlord, who urged, “Hey, Kristen you better get out of there.”

No sooner had she put down the phone when “I noticed water creeping across my bedroom floor,” she said. “I called my kids, ‘Wake up. Let’s go!’ I opened the front door and 2 feet of water flooded my house instantly.”

A few minutes later, she said, she and her two boys were standing hand in hand in the back up of a neighbor’s pickup truck in pouring rain, screaming for help.

About noon, Kristen waded through her house, passed waterlogged furniture and floating wads of Christmas wrapping, threw up her hands and said, “There’s nothing to save. I’ve lost everything I had.”]


Photos: Series of storms hits Southern California

Mudslides spur evacuations of Orange County canyons

Laguna Beach shop owners assess damage during break in the rain

-- Louis Sahagun in Laguna Beach