Homes evacuated due to mudslide risk in Malibu, Burbank

Malibu mudslide evacuation
Posted at 3:17 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 18:17:48-05

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Another storm bore down on the Southland Tuesday, prompting evacuation orders in Malibu and Burbank due to increasing fears of mudslides and debris flows.

Forecasters said Tuesday's storm could pack more of a punch than Monday's rain, and with the ground already saturated, the threat of mudslides will increase exponentially in heavy downpours. According to the National Weather Service, showers were expected to be light Tuesday morning, followed by``widespread heavier rain and possible thunderstorms this afternoon and evening.''

Mandatory evacuation orders took effect Tuesday morning in areas of Malibu, where November's Woolsey Fire stripped many hillsides bare. The orders were issued for specific properties adjacent to steep slopes or at the base of drainages in the following Woolsey Fire burn areas:

-- Corral Canyon/El Nido;
-- Escondido/Old Chimney;
-- Escondido Drive/Latigo Canyon;
-- Malibu West/Trancas Canyon;
-- Malibu Lake;
-- all of Ramirez Canyon Road and adjacent streets
-- Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park and Restaurant.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department emphasized the risks in a statement.

``Authorities warn that all residents who live in or near the Woolsey Fire burn area should remain aware of their surroundings and weather conditions during these storms. Even small amounts of rainfall rates may result in significant mud and debris flow, so we strongly encourage residents who live in or near Woolsey Fire burn areas to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice,'' said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Darren Harris.

Los Angeles County says the following evacuation centers are open to serve residents from the Woolsey Fire area: Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center, 27040 Malibu Hills Road, Agoura; Santa Monica High School-South Gym, 601 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica. For more information, contact the American Red Cross: (800) RED CROSS. Anyone who feels unsafe should call 911.

Evacuation centers for large animals were opened at Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave., in Woodland Hills; and the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, 11127 Orcas Ave., in Lakeview Terrace.

Los Angeles County public safety officials said communities in low- lying areas or next to steep slopes or waterways are particularly at-risk of falling debris and mud flow.

Residents living in homes with limited roadway access or that can become isolated for an extended period due to the storm should consider leaving before storms arrive, and homes or neighborhoods with gates should consider leaving them open to avoid being trapped due to mud flow accumulation; even one-inch of mud can restrict gate operations.

``If your property becomes unsafe and there is no time to evacuate, seek safe high-ground,'' urged the sheriff department statement. It added:

Meanwhile, a mandatory evacuation order took effect at noon in Burbank for residents on Country Club Drive above Via Montana -- and area that could be at risk of mud and debris flows from the 2017 La Tuna Fire burn area.

A series of neighborhoods in the area were placed under voluntary evacuation orders, with authorities urging residents to leave before the bulk of the storm hits.

In Encino, a voluntary evacuation order was in effect for 14 homes in a neighborhood where a house and guest house were damaged Monday by a rain-fueled mud flow.

A grading expert examined the hillside Monday night and determined no additional slide was anticipated, but as a precaution the voluntary evacuation order was issued about 10 p.m. for the homes on Boris and Martson drives, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

A geologist and grading expert will conduct further evaluation Tuesday, Stewart said.

A wall of mud flowed onto the property at 17986 Boris Drive about 5 p.m. Monday, Stewart said. All three adult occupants were able to escape safely, she said.

The guest house was moved off its foundation and was red-tagged, meaning it was deemed unsafe to occupy and the main house was yellow-tagged, Stewart said.

A winter storm warning denoting highly challenging travel conditions is in effect today in the San Gabriel Mountains, where heavy snow and gusty winds are expected through late tonight.

Traveling along Interstate 5 could again be hazardous through the Grapevine in far north Los Angeles County. A stretch of the freeway was closed for hours Monday due to snow. Authorities said heavy rain and strong winds will likely continue to create hazardous travel on the freeway throughout the day Tuesday.