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Debris basins again full of mud; all evacuation orders lifted in L.A. foothills

February 7, 2010 | 12:23 pm

As hundreds of workers prepared to deploy Sunday to empty catch basins once again filled with mud and debris, all evacuation orders were lifted for residents of Southern California's foothills.

L.A. County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said the evacuation orders had been lifted,  including for Paradise Valley in La Cañada Flintridge.

Catch basins in the foothills had only recently been emptied after the weeklong storm that hit Southern California last month when Saturday morning’s torrent of rain filled them again. Bob Spencer, L.A. County Department of Public Works spokesman, said about 1,000 of the department's employees were expected to be deployed Sunday across the county and would use bulldozers, plows, dump trucks and cranes to sweep neighborhood streets and attempt to clear out inlets and debris basins.

“That series of storms two weeks ago, we took about 300,000 cubic yards of material out of our debris basins,” L.A. County Department of Public Works spokesman Bob Spencer said. “This is going to be about the same.”

The basins, he said, would take several weeks to empty completely.

“The day after an event like this, what’s in the debris basins is basically soup,” Spencer said. “It’s like trying to clean out a swimming pool with a shovel. The water’s just going to slide out.”
 
With a capacity of 10,000 cubic yards, the Mullally flood basin on Manistee Drive in La Cañada Flintridge is one of the city’s smallest but is crucial to the area. Its overflow on Saturday sent mud oozing into dozens of homes in the Paradise Valley neighborhood.

“What happened with Mullally yesterday is a huge boulder clogged the inlet and caused the debris to top over and come down the street,” Spencer said. “We were prepared for that, that’s why all the K-rails were here. But there was such a tremendous amount of debris that it overwhelmed" the barriers.

Of the 43 mud-damaged homes in La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta, nine were red-tagged, meaning entry was temporarily prohibited. In addition, 25 vehicles were damaged.

-- Corina Knoll
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