The Pearsons were two of more than 100 residents who filled the auditorium at Clark Magnet High School on Thursday evening to hear Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and other officials speak on the continuing threat of debris flows in the Station fire burn area.
The community forum, co-sponsored by the Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and Crescenta Valley Town Council, also featured officials from Los Angeles County Public Works and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We haven’t yet had some of the big ones,” Jones said of the debris flows so far. “We have the potential, depending on the rain in the next couple of years, to have some bigger ones come down.”
President Obama declared a federal disaster earlier this month for the foothill areas affected by the debris flows, clearing the way for millions of dollars in assistance for cleanup efforts.
Jones said steep slopes and high intensity burns, both of which are present in the area’s foothills, increase the risk of debris flows in areas that have already seen deadly mudflows in the past century.
The final major risk factor — long durations of high intensity rain — is more of an unknown, she said, so residents need to be prepared for potential disasters.
“The weak point in the system is what you can’t predict — mother nature,” Jones said.
With this year’s rain season coming to a close, Mark Pestrella, assistant deputy director of Los Angeles County Public Works, said the agency is staying on alert, but also looking to prepare for next winter.
The agency will work during the summer to expand capacity at the smallest debris basins, including the basin that led to February’s destruction, he said.
“We’re doing what we can do deal with storms in this peace time,” he said.