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Nine homes red-tagged after mudslides; some residents feel lucky they were spared

February 7, 2010 |  2:39 pm

Although a layer of muck had flowed into his garage and around his home, La Cañada Flintridge resident Mike Thomassian, 62, on Sunday counted himself lucky. The interior of his house had been spared from the rain-induced mud that flooded his neighborhood.

But nine homes in the foothill area suffered enough damage to be red-tagged, which means they’re partially collapsed and uninhabitable.

With crumbling walls, sunken roofs, shattered windows and mud-filled living rooms, the structures are in a precarious position with more rain forecast for Tuesday evening.

Although weather specialists expect only a couple of inches of rainfall, L.A. County Department of Public Works spokesman Bob Spencer said residents needed to stay on heightened alert.

“There’s always a worry when we don’t have time to clean the debris basins out,” Spencer said.

Since last month’s storm -- which cost the county about $20 million -- Spencer said 300 dump trucks have operated around the clock to empty the debris basins. Those loads are dumped into three sediment basins in the foothills. The county is in the midst of getting a permit for a fourth sediment basin, and officials asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday morning to expedite the approval process, which can take years.

“It’s needed badly in the near future based on the amount of sediment and debris that’s coming out of the forest,” Spencer said.

“We’re trying to calculate how much room we have left in the three sediment areas we’re using. If the debris keeps coming out at the rate that it is, we need a fourth one very quickly.”

-- Corina Knoll and Ruben Vives

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