Piece of Mind: A lump of coal for Mother Nature

Dear Santa: With very few exceptions (and they know who they are), most of us here in La Cañada Flintridge have behaved ourselves all year long and join together in making this Christmas request: Please see if you can put a bug in your friend Mother Nature's ear on our behalf. Ask her to tone down her behavior until such time as our hillsides, laid bare more than a year ago at the hands of a still unknown arsonist (surely not one of us!) can regroup and regenerate.

Really. That's all we need, Santa. If you're successful at reining her in — talking her into keeping her rainfall to a reasonable level during the upcoming 12 months — I think you may find more than a plate full of cookies waiting for you in our city when next Christmas rolls around. There could, in fact, be a tidy sum stuffed into a stocking just for you.

If that's the case, grab it and run, because those poor souls with houses interfacing the Angeles National Forest have been told they could be facing debris flows for years to come. You might not have a chance to collect again until 2016.

I'm writing you on Wednesday afternoon, Santa. I don't know if you had a chance to hear about it — being caught up as you are, sir, filling last-minute requests — but we were deluged over the past several days and some of our citizens were told it would be a very good idea to high-tail it to safer places, just in case our debris basins overflowed with boulders and mud washed down from the forest.

The evacuation orders were delivered to our neighbors in the Station fire burn areas Tuesday afternoon. Understandably still suffering from evacuation fatigue that set in last winter, most of them politely refused. Just a handful of those who received the orders felt the threat of rain-induced mudslides was high enough to warrant packing up family, pets and treasured possessions and head away from their hillside homes.

It was a restless night for many on Tuesday, as it was unknown exactly how much rain might fall before daybreak. There was some, but certainly not the amount that had been expected, at least not in our area. The morning hours Wednesday brought with them heavy showers. Things looked better at about noon, and then the skies darkened again and more rain pounded on our little corner of the Southland. In fact, a flash flood warning was issued for our foothills just before I started this letter.

I'd like to assume that when we awaken tomorrow, all of our people and their properties will be safe. If that's the case—and even if it's not—please put some goodies in your satchel Christmas Eve for our civic leaders, personnel with the Sheriff's and Fire departments, and especially for all the DWP folks who worked diligently over the past 10 months to clean, repair and expand the debris basins so there would not be a repeat of the disaster of Feb. 6. They've earned whatever you can toss their way.

As to Mother Nature—well, at the moment, I'm thinking a lump of coal might be too good for her.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. E-mail her at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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