Storm Damage Nears $2 Million in LCF

Collapsed roads, felled trees, mudslides and flooding from the recent record-breaking deluge caused over $1 million in damage in La Cañada Flintridge, officials said.

The tally of the damages continued this week as the City Council on Tuesday formally declared a local state of emergency, making the city eligible for state disaster funds.

Over the weekend, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger paved the way for the city to receive that assistance when he declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles County and six other Southern California counties partially ravaged after some 30 inches of rain pelted the region in two weeks.

As of Tuesday, the damage to public property had reached $1.2 million - roughly one-eighth of La Cañada's operating budget - and damage to private property was listed at $575,000, Public Works Director Steve Castellanos said. Countywide, nine people died as result of the storms and the damage toll approached a staggering $90 million, county officials said.

The state Office of Emergency Services will eventually open up satellite offices and begin to assist cities with grants and private parties with loans and other means of financial assistance, city officials said.

A geologist is expected to deliver to the city a report on whether any additional hillsides could fail and pose an imminent danger to the public, Community Develop-ment Director Robert Stanley said. A written report is not finished but the geologist said he did not identify any such slopes, Stanley said.

No La Cañada homes were declared uninhabitable, or red-tagged, but residents in one home that was overrun by a 4-foot-tall plume of mud voluntarily left their home on Parkdale Place.

Small portions of hillside roads that collapsed in the Flintridge area will cost between $20,000 and $40,000 to repair, depending on the slope of the hills, Castellanos said.

More than 100 feet of Inverness Drive collapsed in a mudslide Jan. 10, and county crews are still working to remove the 4,000 tons of mud that covered Highland Avenue as result of the slide, he said. Workers on Tuesday were still attempting to empty mud-clogged storm drains near Highland, he said. Officials have said it would take at least six months to more than a year to repair Inverness.

Castellanos said the city is still trying to determine why a recently constructed crib wall on Foothill Boulevard collapsed. A drainage channel behind the wall was functioning, but Castellanos said he estimates the torrents of rain caused water to build up behind the wall and led to the collapse.

The storms also washed out a number of the many hiking trails that the La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council is now working to fix, trails council President Mary Barrie said. The Crosstown Trail is littered with oak trees and sumac, a large mudslide covers a portion of the Gould Canyon Trail and the Flint Canyon Trail below Cherry Canyon remains closed due to several mudslides, Barrie said.

A local Boy Scout troop will help remove brush from some of the damaged areas and a county engineer on Wednesday was to make an assessment of county-managed trails, Barrie said. The Trails Council wants to donate money to help grade damaged portions of the Gould and Harter Lane, she said. Councilman Anthony Port-antino said the city might be able to lend financial assistance for some of the repair work. Trails managed by the county Department of Parks and Recreation and others managed by the city run through La Cañada.

Residents in the hillside neighborhood on Rancho Cañada Road, where portions of the hillside gave way and covered Walton Oaks Lane with mud, were advised by fire officials to cover the failed slope with a 300-by-100-foot tarp and plan to do so in the coming days, resident Marilyn Mahan said. The tarp likely will remain on the hillside until May, Mahan said.

The Rancho Cañada hillside is replete with gopher holes that Castellanos said might have been a cause of the slope failure. In other areas, heavy vegetation on waterlogged hillsides may have been a contributing factor to some of the 100 slides in the city.

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