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More thunderstorms make their way across Southland

Disasters and AccidentsAvalanches and LandslidesLaw EnforcementCrime, Law and JusticeHeavy EngineeringManufacturing and EngineeringColby Fire

A new round of thunderstorms moved into the Southern California region early Saturday afternoon, snarling traffic, threatening mudslides and opening a large sinkhole on a busy Los Angeles street.

The heavy band of rain was expected to drench coastal and valley areas throughout the day, while forecasters predicted intermittent showers until the storm moves out of the region on Sunday afternoon.

The storm was expected to dump another one to two inches of rain in coastal areas and another two to six inches in mountain and foothill regions. Mandatory evacuation orders remained in place for parts of Glendora, Monrovia and Azusa.

On Saturday, the hills behind Ridge View Road in Azusa were swollen with mud, threatening to damage the same homes that survived the 2,000-acre Colby fire less than two months ago.

Rain earlier in the week had sent mud coursing toward the backyards of homes nestled against the hills. Some homeowners said Saturday they were concerned about the threat of a major landslide and resulting property damage posed by more rain. 

Los Angeles County firefighters parked in the cul-de-sac, with heavy equipment idling nearby, just in case.

Dennis Sanderson's two-story home backs up to the mountains, and nearly a foot of mud had slid down the hills and buried the base of his fledgling vineyard, built on a terrace above the back yard.

"If it turns out well in a few years, I'll know this charcoal and organic material really helped," Sanderson said, looking at the silver trestles and bright-green vines poking out of the mud. "I'll be able to market that secret."

The mud stopped at a small retaining wall, leaving the grassy yard undamaged.

"You almost wish we'd had a little more damage, so he wouldn't feel so bad," Sanderson said.

He was referring to his neighbor's home, which saw the most damage: nearly eight feet of mud that buried the back yard, knocked down a metal fence and enveloped a 10-foot basketball hoop. The mud stopped just short of the home's ground level.

Only some sand and debris littered the street, and most other properties along the quiet cul-de-sac sustained little or no damage. White sandbags lined sidewalks and porches, and one home facing the hills had wedged blue tarpaulins between the garage door and the driveway.

Sanderson had returned to the neighborhood, which was still under an evacuation order Saturday, to pump water and silt from his terrace area and try to route the water away from his home. Maybe emptying the area could minimize the damage that more rain could cause, he said.

Jeff White's home wasn't damaged, but he came back to the neighborhood to grab clothes from the house and check on his neighbors, including Sanderson. They gingerly walked through the mud on the terraces, looking at avocado trees and shrubbery buried in silt.

"We evacuated in January, we evacuated in February," said Jeff White, whose home is across the street from the mountains. "We're just hoping March will be better."

Elsewhere in the L.A. basin, officials braced for high winds, wild surf, thunderstorms and even some tornadoes.

In downtown Los Angeles, a large sinkhole swallowed a chunk of street in the 200 block of North Broadway, officials said. The hole, which developed about 11:30 a.m., was about eight by four feet in diameter and approximately 10 feet deep, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Maintenance crews were called out assess and try to fix the damage while police officers directed traffic.

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laura.nelson@latimes.com

jean.merl@latimes.com

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