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Mudslide Prompts a Dozen Glendale Homes to Evacuate : Downpour: Residents leave voluntarily as local state of emergency is declared. No injuries are reported.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The scene to which Jeff Deeter returned home Tuesday was downright dirty.

Summoned by Glendale police, Deeter raced to his Maginn Drive home to find firefighters standing atop his bed, amid a sea of mud that had crashed through the bedroom wall of his mountainside home. One by one, they passed his camera equipment and 17 expensive suits out the window to waiting rescue workers.

The mud on the floor of the bedroom and adjoining bath was more than four feet deep.

“Funny how these things happen,” said Carol Deeter. “The only thing my husband has left are the shoes he wore to work today; the rest are buried in mud.”

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Hillside dwellers here and throughout the San Fernando Valley braced themselves Tuesday against the possibility they would wind up like the Deeters, as heavy rain turned back yards into churning rivers of mud, muck and storm debris that threatened to power through homes like an avalanche of wet cement.

The Glendale City Council declared a local state of emergency as at least a dozen homes were voluntarily evacuated along Aspen Oak Lane and Wonderview and Maginn drives. In those neighborhoods, more than a dozen Red Cross workers pitched in to build walls of sandbags and to shovel the heavy mud away from expensive homes.

There were no reported injuries.

Indeed, along Maginn and Wonderview drives, it was a day to don rain gear and roll up sleeves, as residents teamed up to keep clear a concrete drainage culvert that homeowners were afraid would clog with mud, endangering the residences directly below.

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“The mud was so thick with water, it was like shoveling cement,” said resident Bill Volkel.

Shortly after 9 a.m., responding to calls from worried residents, Glendale police and public works officials converged on the hillside neighborhood at the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains as mud began to fill the streets. Within the hour, drivers had carted away eight truckloads of mud.

At first, scores of residents were ordered to evacuate the area, but officials later reduced that to a warning under which residents were advised to leave voluntarily.

Throughout the day, residents and officials alike watched and waited--wondering if the scrub-dotted hills would hold up under the heavy downpour.

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At the home of Glendale mortuary owner Dick Kiefer, they didn’t. At about 10 a.m., Kiefer and his wife, Sally, were in their Maginn Drive home, next door to the Deeter family, when they heard a loud crash.

An ocean of mud had suddenly crashed over a retaining wall to fill the back yard. “The Fire Department told us (if) we heard a roar to move to the front of the house,” said Kiefer, 64. “And when we heard it, that’s exactly what we did.”

For many, just waiting for the mud to strike was torture enough.

As Edmund Minassian used a shovel to keep clear a muddy concrete culvert near his house, his wife, Eileen, stood inside, wringing her hands.

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“We’ve only been here two years, so this is our first storm,” she said. “But our neighbors warned us that it would be bad, when it came. They weren’t lying.

“It’s scary to see so much mud coming at you from your own back yard. You never believe it’s gonna come crashing through. You keep your fingers crossed.”

It was daybreak when Michele Mooney sounded the family alarm. The back yard was starting to flood. She knew the hillside might be next. “We decided at 6 a.m. this morning this was not going to be a day to go to work,” she said.

“You look up and you see this torrential waterfall coming toward (your) house in the concrete gutters built just for this reason. And you get scared.”

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Carol Deeter, manager of the radiology department at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, chose to keep the near disaster in perspective: “When you work in my business, if you’re not losing your life, you’re lucky,” she said. Last January, she had helped her mother, who lives in Northridge, pick through household debris following the quake.

“This is awful, it’s not nice, but we have insurance,” Deeter, who has lived in her Glendale home since 1976, said of Tuesday’s flooding. “The cats and dogs are fine. We’re both able and we’re lucky to have jobs.

“I’d say we came through this just fine.”


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