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South Bay Storm Damage Toll Is Expected to Top $5 Million : Weather: El Segundo reports $3 million in rain-related problems and Carson’s tally is $2.5 million. Other cities are still assessing.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Rain was on the heads and on the minds of South Bay residents this week as they recovered from last week’s drenching storm and slogged through another one that slammed into the coast late Monday.

In Carson, one of the hardest-hit cities, resident Walter Lesh mopped his muddy floors and sopped water from soggy furniture during a temporary dry spell Monday afternoon. “If it rains (again), I’m going to shoot somebody,” Lesh said.

But rain it did. A major storm front passed through California and dumped another three inches of water in parts of the South Bay. That deluge came on top of more than three inches of rain that hit the area last week.

The storms snarled traffic, flooded hundreds of homes and toppled trees. Although damage from the storms probably will top $5 million in the South Bay, officials said, it is too early for a complete assessment.

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Carson City Manager Lawrence G. Olson said public and private buildings in his city sustained almost $2.5 million in damage. The city will make available $1 million in grants and interest-free loans to residents whose homes were damaged by floods.

The city set up a mobile command center in a rented Winnebago parked in the Keystone neighborhood near Carson Park, where the county’s Dominguez flood channel overflowed last week, swamping 80 to 90 homes.

Area residents, city employees and the California Conservation Corps worked together to remove furniture destroyed by flooding and to fortify homes with sandbags in preparation for the next storm.

Raymond Silva, who was sandbagging his parents’ East Dominguez Street home Monday, said the water level reached four feet last week.

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Tuesday afternoon, Keystone homes again were beginning to flood, and city workers were pumping the water out.

In Carson Park, the Red Cross set up a shelter and relief center Jan. 4 and has passed out vouchers and supplies valued at more than $20,000, a spokesman said.

In El Segundo last week, Bob’s Antique Auto Parts and other businesses in the city’s Smoky Hollow industrial section were flooded. This week, the area got another soaking.

“It’s kind of nasty because the sewage comes up,” said store manager Mark Rinebold. “The toilet is like a geyser.”

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Rinebold said about half a dozen homes and almost a dozen businesses flooded Tuesday. But that time it was only eight inches instead of four feet.

“It was like a river last week,” he said. “But now it’s just like a swimming pool.”

Last week El Segundo declared a state of emergency and estimated storm damage at $3 million. Officials had no damage estimate after Tuesday’s flooding.

In Redondo Beach, Public Works Director Desi Alvarez estimated that up to 140 homes may have flooded, but the city called for no evacuations. He had no damage estimate.

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High surf trapped two men on the King Harbor breakwater in Redondo Beach on Sunday but lifeguards did not report any rescues Tuesday as the storm whipped up 10-foot waves.

Contamination from storm runoff closed a stretch of beach from Manhattan to El Segundo Jan. 5, but the area reopened Monday. The second storm did not bring any contamination-related beach closures, said Ross MacKinnon, a senior ocean lifeguard.

In Harbor City last week about a dozen homes were flooded and 45 vehicles were submerged in and around the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard because storm drains clogged, said Barry Glickman, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr. The area fared better in the subsequent storms, though minor flooding was reported.

Torrance City Manager LeRoy J. Jackson had no reports of major damage this week, but the wind blew over some trees after rain saturated the ground.

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“It’s kind of a shame,” he said. “You lose the old ones.”

Adding to the city’s woes, the power in City Hall and the surrounding neighborhood went out at 6 p.m. Tuesday, an hour before the City Council meeting. The meeting was moved a couple of hundred yards away to the city’s cultural center, the first time in 20 years the council did not convene in its chambers and the first time in 10 years the meeting was not broadcast live on cable television, a spokeswoman said.

The Goldenwest Convalescent Hospital in Hawthorne, where 95 people were evacuated last week after rain seeped through a roof that was under construction, remained vacant.

The city manager of Avalon, on Santa Catalina Island, reported that an overflowing flood channel doused two blocks of homes and caused the evacuation of about 70 people. Robert F. Clark said roads from the island’s airport and harbor were also closed. It was too early for a damage assessment, but the city was scheduled to convene a special meeting Wednesday to declare a local emergency.

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