L.A. Now

Southern California rainstorm: homeowners, homeless try to cope

In rainstorm, homeowners try to save houses from mudslides while those without homes cope as best as they can

As Tuesday's big rainstorm soaked Southern California, homeowners in mudslide-prone areas stacked sandbags and crossed their fingers. Those without homes coped as best they could.

Rain fell steadily midday in Azusa, where Ed Heinlein waited to see what nature held in store for "the most dangerous place in L.A. for mud flood."

He's not kidding. His home on Ridge View Drive was hit March 1 by a 2,500-ton flood of mud.

"Thirteen acres of that mountain from 850 feet above us funnels into our yard and property," said Heinlein, 66.

His home was subsequently red tagged. His family spent nine months cleaning up the mess.

"Now they claim it's all coming back," Heinlein said. "If we get three inches of rain, we'll get a 10-foot mudflow."

On Tuesday, Heinlein's home was surrounded by more than 300 sandbags, he said, put there Monday night by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The scene and the people were different but the sense of resignation was much the same in downtown Los Angeles across the street from the Union Rescue Mission.

Small groups of homeless huddled under awnings and in doorways early Tuesday afternoon as the rain fell. Tents lined up on San Pedro Street between 5th and 6th streets enabled some to escape the wet weather, while others created shelter out of a tarp, shopping carts and wheelchairs.

Around the corner on San Julian Street, a woman lunged over a large puddle that covered much of the sidewalk. People crouched on the ground and covered themselves with blankets. One woman held a green, flowered umbrella.

Robert Warren, 50, made a tent out of a blue tarp draped over a small umbrella that he held.

“It’s kind of difficult if you don’t have a tent out here,” he said.

Warren said he’d been on the streets for years. He briefly lived in a shelter but said it was “just crowded.”

Under an awning near the mission, 62-year-old Oliver Svenson sat on a blue walker with a clear plastic bag over his knees. He'd lived at the mission since 2011, he said, and came outside Tuesday afternoon to get some fresh air.

“I’m enjoying the rain. I like the four seasons,” he said. “I’m getting meditation and looking for a new perspective.”

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