Los Angeles County crews worked throughout the day to clear the mud and empty debris basins, but with 10 of the county’s 28 debris basins at near or full capacity Saturday afternoon, officials said the evacuations in the burn areas were a necessary precaution.
“This is a matter of life and death,” Los Angeles County Fire Chief Michael Freeman said Saturday at an evening press conference. “And any time we evacuate we are very much aware of the inconvenience."
While a flash flood warning for the region was lifted late Saturday afternoon, officials pointed to dark clouds overhead and cited the unexpected intensity of Saturday’s storm cell. The storm had originally been expected to leave the region by Friday evening, but stalled over the burn areas through the early morning hours.
“It’s very important that everyone understand the unpredictability of predictions,” Freeman said.
During the Saturday morning debris flows, protective cement barriers, known as K-rails, were pushed out of place, while several dozen cars parked in the neighborhood were picked up by the flow and carried to various sites along Ocean View.
A total of 43 homes were damaged in La Cañada and La Crescenta. The majority of the damage occurred in La Cañada’s Paradise Valley neighborhood, where nine homes were tagged as uninhabitable.
“Last night, our worst fears were realized,” La Cañada Mayor Laura Olhasso said. “I cannot tell you the devastation that you can see. My heart was in the bottom of my stomach.”
At the press conference, county Supervisor Mike Antonovich called for a federal response to the U.S. Forest Service’s initial response to the Station fire, which he said caused Saturday’s disaster.