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UPDATED: Santa Clarita Valley residents waterlogged

Two more inches of rain fall; some Acton residents won’t leave

Posted: January 20, 2010 10:28 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2010 1:30 p.m.

Jennifer Waugh watches as her sister Madeline Yang opens the door to let eight-month-old Sadie Yang away from the rain after shopping at Walmart in Stevenson Ranch on Tuesday afternoon.

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UPDATED 1:30 p.m. Thursday:
A final frontal system of the most recent storm is passing over the Santa Clarita Valley today causing potentially gusty winds, heavy rain and debris flows, according to the National Weather Service Web site.

Scattered thunderstorms throughout Los Angeles County may become more severe late this afternoon and tonight, the service's site said.

Fire officials assigned a swiftwater rescue team Thursday to a Newhall fire station to be available for flooding emergencies.

Until the rain stops, Caltrans will be unable to fix a broken light causing backed up traffic at the intersection of Golden Valley Road and Sierra Highway, a sheriff's official said.

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Thursday, 4:55 a.m.:

Heavy rain and snow prompted authorities to shut down Interstate 5 through the Grapevine and evacuate dozens of homes in the Acton burn areas Wednesday as rain pummeled the Santa Clarita Valley for the fourth day in a row.

The third — and possibly most powerful — storm to hit Southern California this week dumped about 2 inches on the Santa Clarita Valley on Wednesday. Rain is expected to continue into the weekend.

I-5 through the Grapevine was closed at Parker Road in Castaic and southbound near Bakersfield about 1 p.m. due to snow. It was reopened about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials tried to evacuate residents of about 40 homes in Acton near burn areas, fearing mudslides and rockslides.

Not everyone was willing to leave, though.

Victoria Pique, 53, who lives on a hilltop on Maryhill Road, decided to stay to take care of her animals — three horses and several rescued dogs, cats and tortoises.

“I’m stocked up with 30 bales of hay” and pet food, she said, estimating she had enough for a month. “The road’s washed out. ... We’re in for probably Monday or Tuesday, whenever it stops.”

An evacuation center was set up at Marie Kerr Park’s recreation center in Palmdale for those who chose to leave, said county fire Inspector Frederic Stowers.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Works officials said that while evacuation is a choice, residents in burn areas are strongly advised to leave for their own safety.

“If they choose not to evacuate, there may come a situation that rescuers cannot get them out, and we want to avoid that,” said department spokesman Gary Boze. “We don’t take evacuation lightly. If we are asking for evacuation, we are very concerned that there could be danger to residents due to mud and debris flow.”

About 75 percent of the residents told to evacuate in Acton, La Crescenta and La Canada Flintridge complied, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida.

The evacuation order could last until Monday, she added.

Meanwhile, the heavy rainfall affected others in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Workers at Carousel Ranch in Agua Dulce had to dig drainage trenches to keep the ranch’s horses clean and comfortable.

“It’s a flood up here. We can’t operate when the rain is like this,” said Denise Tomey, owner and operator of Carousel Ranch, which provides therapy for disabled children through horseback riding.

“If we weren’t digging trenches all the time, there would be a foot of water in their stall,” she said. “It’s very close to snowing up here.”

Local concrete producer Curtis Sand and Gravel is offering 20 tons of free sand and gravel to local residents as long as they bring their own bags, said Ben Curtis, the business owner.

The National Weather Service forecasts rain and possible thunderstorms in the Santa Clarita Valley today and tonight, accompanied by southwest winds that could reach up to 18 mph.

Wind gusts could be as high as 25 mph, according to the service’s Web site.

Showers and winds up to 21 mph are expected Friday. Showers are possible Saturday before 10 a.m., while Sunday is expected to be mostly sunny.

Signal intern Bekka Gunther contributed to this report.


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