Worst of strong storm to hit L.A. area appears to be over

The worst of powerful storm that raked Southern California is over #pineappleexpress #LArain

The worst of a powerful storm that flooded streets and sent destructive mud flows barreling into homes is over for Southern California.

The storm dumped up to 2 inches along the coast and valleys in a matter of hours and 2 to 4 inches in the mountains and foothills, said meteorologist John Dumas of the National Weather Service.

“It was almost exactly what we expected it to be,” he said.

Parts of the mountains and foothills got 5 inches of rain, added Dumas.

The storm brought heavy rain, thousands of power outages and 10-foot high walls of rock, mud and debris into neighborhoods whose hills had been left vulnerable by fire.

Among the hardest hit areas was Camarillo Springs, where a 60-minute downpour that started about 1:30 a.m. was enough to saturate Ventura County’s mountains and overtake barriers city crews had set up to prepare.

Authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation for 124 homes but not everyone heeded the warning. In at least one incident, firefighters rescued an elderly couple and their caretaker after mud pushed into the home and trapped them in their kitchen.

Along the coast, Ventura County firefighters spent the morning searching for marooned drivers on Pacific Coast Highway. Mud piled up to 2 feet on the road trapped five cars and stranded about a dozen people.

Branduinn Fullove almost took a dive into the Pacific Ocean – in his car – after mud, rocks the size of recliners and tree stumps came down Friday morning on Pacific Coast Highway.

Fullove, 34, had left his Sherman Oaks home in the wee hours, headed to Santa Barbara for the weekend.

He was driving north on PCH in Ventura County when it started raining hard as he drove near Sycamore Canyon. In an ominous sign, a barrier that had been against the hillside was pushed into his lane.

Then the torrent of a water, mud, rocks and huge tree stumps poured onto the highway, pushing Fullove's car toward the ocean on the four lane highway.

He started praying as his Honda Accord was pushed toward the ocean.  It finally came to a rest just feet before going over. Fullove was saved because his car got stuck in mud from the rain.  

"I'm really excited to be alive right now," Fullove said as he sat in the Ventura County Fire Department station on PCH on Friday morning.

Natalie Hogan was riding in the backseat of her boyfriend's Saturn when all of a sudden, huge rocks and mud came down PCH near the Ventura-Los Angeles County line. The musician and a friend were driving north toward their home in Oxnard after playing a gig in Long Beach.

Hogan said the large rocks hit the bottom of their car and it felt as if they would go through the floorboard.

She said the rain was coming down so hard they couldn't see anything. The car stopped and all they could hear was the sound of pounding rain and rocks tumbling down the hill.

"We knew we couldn't stay in the car in case the whole hill came down,” she said.

The pair got out of the car and began walking, eventually making it to Neptune's Net, a local fish restaurant where fire officials found them.

The couple eventually joined others at a local fire station, where they were given food and kept warm until Caltrans could free their cars, officials said.

In Los Angeles County, authorities lining the San Gabriel Mountains spent the morning patroling mud-caked streets looking for the rain’s latest breach. Some homes along the mountains in Glendora were buried in mud, but no injuries were reported.

In Orange County, the morning storm triggered mandatory evacuations for 60 homes in fire-scarred Silverado Canyon, but no major damage was reported.

In San Diego, lifeguards and other rescue personnel responded to a call about a man standing in the middle of a flood channel along State Route 94 in the Mt. Hope area. But as lifeguards searched the fast-moving water in the channel, the sighting could not be verified.

Elsewhere in the county, the San Diego River overflowed in Mission Valley and the parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium was flooded. In Carlsbad, the Legoland theme park closed for the day, and some training was halted at the school of infantry at Camp Pendleton.

Forecasters said the rain is expected to last most of the day Friday with scattered, heavy showers, but nothing like what residents experienced in the pre-dawn hours.

For more breaking news, follow @VeronicaRochaLA, @amcovarrubias and @josephserna.

Tony Perry in San Diego and Samantha Masunaga in Glendora contributed to this report.

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