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Flooding hits Laguna Beach art community hard

January 2, 2011 | 10:39 am

Trying to cope

Olivia Batchelder went to sleep listening to the rain crash on her roof, but at a some point a new violence in the sound woke her up.

Behind her house in Laguna Beach, the creek was overflowing. Out front, water and mud were rushing down the hill. Soon her kitchen was flooded, and the free-standing garage where she keeps the equipment with which she makes a living as an artist — easels, brushes, paint dishes and silk supplies — had been inundated.

In Laguna Beach, the Dec. 22 storm caused an estimated $10.2 million in damage and struck particularly hard along Laguna Canyon Road and the streets behind it, where Batchelder and many of the city's other artists live and keep their work spaces.

Block after block through the canyon last week, bins were piled high with debris, mud was being shoveled out, and artists were trying to assess how much they had lost.

For Batchelder, 65, who specializes in hand-painted silk scarves and other clothing, the toll included a stack of painted silk coats, but the bulk of her artwork was saved. She had it inside the house for a recent show and, when the rains got fierce, decided to get it all off the floor.

Standing outside her home last week as volunteers from local churches helped clean out her muddy garage, she tried not to think about how she will have to tear out her kitchen and replace it.

"There's been a lot of destruction, but there's been a lot of community bonding and help from all angles," said Batchelder, who has lived in the neighborhood 11 years. "I'm not scared of nature. I have chosen to live in the bowels of Mother Nature, and so you feel every burp and gurgle."

Read the full story here.

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-- Christopher Goffard

Photo: Laguna Beach artist Marsh Scott, who paints in mixed media and sculpts in stainless steel, says mud and water ruined most of her supplies and works. She says the 1,500-square-foot studio she rents on Laguna Canyon Road was full of mud, 2 feet deep in places. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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