"Get up!" he screamed. He had just left the bedroom to check on the puppy but frantically raced back to wake up his wife and son.
"Get up!" he screamed again. "We have to get out!"
He burst into his son's room. It was a little after 4 a.m.
"Dad, what is it?" Brian sat up.
"We have to get out!"
They ran into the master bedroom. Henry's wife, Damaris, was already out of bed.
"Let's go! Let's go!" he yelled, throwing open the slider to the patio, not thinking to turn on a light.
Just hours before they had been together, warm and safe, talking and playing with Lindy, the new golden retriever, a gift to Damaris. Then the rain came, then the downpour.
Outside in the darkness, they slipped on the wet concrete. They dashed around the pool to the end of the property, as far from the house as possible. Damaris fell once, then again.
Surging water rose around their bare feet and ankles. Within seconds, a torrent hit them, bringing with it rocks and branches. Holding on to one another, they reached a cypress tree and the fence, anything to put between them and the raging water, anything to hang on to. They were drenched.
Homeowners who live against the San Gabriel Mountains know the danger. Mudslides follow fire, so they live with the warnings and the barricades. They hope that they're safe, but hope has its limitations, a stark reality that hit the Laguna family and their neighbors on Manistee Drive in La Cañada Flintridge just six days ago.
Next door, Pat Anderson was startled out of her sleep. She had been dozing, slightly worried, a little restless. It's always that way when it rains. Then she heard a deep rumbling from outside her second-story bedroom.
She went to the window. She pulled back, stunned. She looked again. A giant wave of water was crashing into the first floor of her house, and the far corner of her garage had collapsed.
She didn't know what to do. For a moment, she just watched. Nearly 35 years ago, she and her husband survived their first debris flow. Back then, Manistee had turned into the roiling Mississippi. This was worse, and now she lived alone. Her husband had died in 2003.
She watched the boulders and logs tumble by. No one had said anything about this storm. At dinner with friends that evening, there had just been some drizzle, on and off, the forecast hardly a cause for concern: "Rain . . . possibly becoming heavy at times . . . decreasing to showers during the overnight hours." No one expected nearly 5 inches.
Henry and his family clung to the fence and the cypress, struggling to keep their footing as the speed of the water and mud picked up. The rain beat upon them.