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‘Pretty scary’: Camper describes evacuation from flood at Malibu campground

Mark Carrow and his granddaughter Ella Glass stand near a flooded section of a campground
Mark Carrow and his granddaughter Ella Glass stand near a flooded section of the Leo Carrillo campground in Malibu on Thursday. Water from a nearby creek overflowed into the campground. Many campers had to be evacuated by firefighters and swift water rescue workers.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Keith Elvert — along with his wife, children, parents and niece — was camping in Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu when a flash flood arrived Thursday morning.

When he opened the door to his trailer around 3 a.m. Thursday, “there was 2 feet of water running outside the trailer pretty swiftly,” the Apple Valley resident said.

“It was pretty scary — there were some branches and debris, and it was real muddy brown,” Elvert said. “You appreciate the power of the water at that point.”

The family grabbed what they could and evacuated by car to a hotel in Thousand Oaks. They hoped to get back to the trailer Friday or Saturday to assess the damage, he said.

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Volunteers decorate Rose Parade floats, enjoying the event’s return even as concern rises over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

At least 50 people had to be rescued from the campground after significant rainfall sent a torrent of muddy water through the area, said Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Geovanni Sanchez.

It was one of the more dramatic moments in a day of rain that caused small debris flows, road closures due to mud and snow and several rescues and evacuations.

Portions of Pacific Coast Highway, Mulholland Highway and Angeles Crest Highway were also closed because of mud, rocks and debris, officials said.

The National Weather Service said the soggy conditions were expected to linger throughout the day, with multiple weather advisories in place across the Southland.

Forecasters said the storm was slated to taper off Thursday night, with only a few spotty showers possibly remaining Friday morning.

Near the scene of the 2020 Bobcat fire in Monrovia, streets and homes were holding their own Thursday.

North Canyon Boulevard, above the Sawpit Debris Basin, remained closed after a washout a few weeks back. But there was no discernible new damage to the mountain roadway, and water and debris in Monrovia Canyon remained about 10 feet below the level in the earlier storm.

“We’ve fared really well. We feel fortunate,” said Denise Valazza, whose home overlooks the canyon.

Ridgeside Drive, Oakglade Drive and other nearby streets have had sandbags and concrete barriers in place for months, but runoff remained light enough Thursday afternoon that the precautions were not needed.

Valazza and her husband, Tony, said the biggest loss probably will be access to trails in Monrovia’s Canyon Park. Redone after the Bobcat fire, the trails will probably need more repairs after the rains.

The couple had hiked the trails as much as five days a week before the fire and flooding.

“That’s a real shame,” Denise Valazza said. “We miss it a lot.”

Heavy rain and snow are prompting road closures and evacuations across Southern California on Thursday.

Some residents said they were ready for sunshine again.

“I live in a part of L.A. where you walk everywhere,” said Koreatown resident Matthew Olivarez, who typically goes to the grocery store, the bank and the train station on foot. “I like a bit of rain, but it’s enough.”

Floats are being decorated, marching bands are tuning up and thousands are bundling up to see the spectacle. But the pandemic lurks in the background.


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