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California storm: 10 houses condemned; mandatory evacuations lifted

The SoCal storm on Friday left 10 homes uninhabitable due to mudslides

The powerful storm that hit Southern California on Friday caused mudslides that left 10 homes uninhabitable, led to the rescue of two people from the rain-swollen Los Angeles River, felled trees and knocked out power for tens of thousands.

In addition to a downpour of rain, there were powerful wind gusts, topping out at 89 mph, and a five-minute waterspout off the coast near Los Angeles International Airport.

Ten homes were condemned and three more had limited access in Camarillo Springs after the storm sent rivers of dirt and rock tumbling down local hillsides and barreling through backyard fences.

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“Mother Nature prevailed,” said Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Senior Deputy Cyrus Zadeh. “The rain came down too hard.”

Between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m. Friday, about 2 inches of rain dropped onto Ventura County, said meteorologist Stuart Seto. Camarillo Springs’ hillsides, still saturated from a considerable storm over Halloween, couldn’t handle the onslaught.

“We did have K-rails and barriers in place, but the sheer volume of rocks and debris was a lot more than they could handle,” Zadeh said. “I guess there’s really no way you can compete with the force of Mother Nature at times.”

Ventura County officials had ordered 124 homes to evacuate ahead of Friday morning’s storm. As of noon, 10 of those homes were red-tagged and three were yellow-tagged. Residents of three other homes that were damaged were allowed to return, Zadeh said. Mandatory evacuations for the area were lifted after 2 p.m. Friday.

John Calka and his wife, Connie, said authorities awakened them in their home about 2 a.m. when rocks started rolling down their street.

He said the slide occurred in the same place that the ground had given way on Halloween.

"The rocks were 2 feet in diameter ... moving in the middle of the street. We just kind of watched,” he said.

Also in Ventura County, at least five cars were buried in about 2 feet of mud early Friday on Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu. Their passengers had to be rescued, said fire Capt. Stan Zeigler. Until California Department of Transportation crews cleaned up the road, the motorists were stranded at a local fire station.

Los Angeles County had a host of flooded roadways. In Glendora, police said numerous intersections were flooded and some residents were marooned in their homes. Police couldn't drive in; residents couldn't drive out. 

“We’re closing a lot of intersections because they’re basically just full of brown water and a lot of rocks,” Glendora police Capt. Tim Staab said early Friday.

Mandatory evacuations for Glendora were lifted Friday afternoon and the city's disaster alert level had been downgraded to orange.

The rain caused the Los Angeles River to swell and surge along its concrete track. A couple was rescued from an area of the river near the intersection of Glendale Boulevard and Riverside Drive with thick, partially submerged trees.

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Pulled from the river first, the man said his wife was still stranded. The woman was more difficult to locate but could be heard by bystanders on the riverbank yelling occasionally as Swift Water team members tried to find her. 

She was finally rescued and hustled away by ambulance. Her condition was not immediately known. The man did not suffer injuries but was hypothermic, according to officials.

Meanwhile, power was knocked out for tens of thousands in Southern California.

PG&E reported widespread outages. As of 12:30 p.m., 2,115 people in Kern County and 6,886 customers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties were without power. Most outages were due to damage from high winds, spokeswoman Katie Allen said. PG&E officials said crews from Oregon, Washington and throughout California were working quickly to restore power.

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power reported that 12,500 customers from San Pedro to Granada Hills were without power, utility spokeswoman Terry Schneider said.

The utility saw a surge in outages between 3 and 3:30 a.m., when strong rain and wind hit the area. Most of the outages caused by downed trees and wires occurred in metro Los Angeles.

Southern California Edison crews are working to restore power to 20,000 customers from the Central Valley to the San Diego border, spokesman David Song said. At least 13,025 of those customers were in Los Angeles County; 71 were in Riverside County; in San Bernardino County, 699 didn’t have power; and Orange County had 1,742 customers in the dark, Song said.

The storm trekked southward across Southern California. After wreaking havoc in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, it continued its march into Orange County, where authorities issued mandatory evacuations for residents near a fire-scarred mountain Friday morning.

Shannon Widor, a public information officer for Orange County’s Emergency Operations Center,  said about 60 homes were affected by the evacuation order. 

The evacuation affected the burn area east of 30311 Silverado Canyon Road.

"It is a high risk area from the September fire," Widor said.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced at 1:40 p.m. that they were lifting its mandatory evacuations for Silverado Canyon residents and downgrading its flash flood warning to a watch. 

The bodies of two men were found Friday in two washes in Southern California, but authorities said it was unclear whether their deaths were storm-related.

The first discovery was made about 7:28 a.m. after a woman walking on an overpass at Ward Street north of McFadden Avenue in Garden Grove spotted a man’s body in a flooded storm drain, police Lt. Ben Stauffer said.

Garden Grove firefighters arrived at the scene and pulled the body from the drain.

Sometime before 11 a.m., a witness spotted a man’s body in the shallow wash near Soledad Canyon Road and Langside Avenue in Santa Clarita and called authorities, Deputy Josh Dubin said.

Authorities said coroner’s investigators will determine whether the men’s deaths were a result of the storm.

Los Angeles Times staff writers Amanda Covarrubias, Ruben Vives, Cindy Chang and Samantha Masunaga contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

2:25 p.m.: This article was updated to add information about mandatory evacuations being lifted in Camarillo Springs, Glendora and Silverado Canyon.

1:38 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with new information.

12:07 p.m.: This article was updated to add details about the rescue of a woman from the L.A. River.

11:30 a.m.: This article was updated to add details about the L.A. River rescue.

10:41 a.m.: This article was updated to add information about the rescue of one person from the Los Angeles River.

10:17 a.m.: This article was updated with information about a swift water rescue.

9:25 a.m.: This article was updated with information about the storm's effects in Orange County.

7:46 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with new information.

6:21 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details.

The first version of this article was published at 5:06 a.m.

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