Woman and her dog missing after mudflows slam parts of San Bernardino County
A woman and her dog are missing after torrential rain hit several San Bernardino County communities earlier this week, prompting evacuation orders and causing significant damage to homes and infrastructure near recent burn areas.
The woman’s last known location was in a building in the Forest Falls area that was directly affected by a mudflow, said Mike McClintock, battalion chief with the San Bernardino County Fire Department. Specialized urban search and rescue teams have been working the area to locate the woman, McClintock said.
Throughout the flooding incident, first responders received multiple reports of missing people, and all but the woman have been accounted for, McClintock said. No injuries or fatalities have been reported so far.
Residents in Oak Glen and Forest Falls had been ordered to evacuate because of threats from mudslides and debris, affecting about 50 homes, authorities said.
More than 120 firefighters from the San Bernardino County Fire Department are assisting with search and rescue efforts. Oak Glen and Forest Falls were hit with mudflows 10 to 12 feet thick in some areas, pushing boulders, rocks and trees into communities and onto roads, McClintock said. Some homes and infrastructure sustained serious damage, McClintock said. Roads, power and water were heavily affected by the storm.
In Oak Glen, evacuation orders were lifted at 6 p.m. Tuesday for Oak Glen Road and Wildwood Canyon to Upper Potato Canyon Road, and for Oak Glen Road and Casa Blanca Avenue to Chagall Road, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter. The area was open to residents only, and Potato Canyon Road remained closed.
A shelter-in-place order for the nearby community of Forest Falls also expired at 6 p.m. Tuesday, deputies said. The area was open to residents only, and an evacuation order from Canyon Drive south to Prospect Drive, south of Valley of the Falls Drive, remained in place.
The La Niña climate pattern, which tends to bring dry conditions to the Southwest, is expected to persist for another year amid the ongoing drought.
Heavy rainfall lashed parts of San Bernardino County on Monday. Some areas near the Apple and El Dorado burn scar area received more than 2 inches of rain per hour. “That was pretty remarkable,” said Elizabeth Schenk, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego. Strawberry Creek, which is in the burn scar area, received the highest amount of precipitation, with 2.88 inches of rain Monday. Several other locations recorded more than an inch of rain.
In a livestream on Twitter from the National Weather Service in San Diego, warning-coordination meteorologist Alex Tardy walked along Oak Glen Road near Potato Canyon and showed roads overwhelmed with mud, debris, large boulders and logs, and downed power lines. The area had been hit four times in the last year and a half, Tardy said, estimating that removal could take days.
Rescue efforts, roadway clearing, infrastructure repair — including to power and water supplies — and mud removal are ongoing. A damage assessment analysis should be completed Wednesday, McClintock said.
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