Los Angeles received 1.53 inches of rain on Friday, which is more than they have had in the past eight months. As of Saturday evening, Los Angeles had received over 3 inches of rain. While this rain will help with the drought in California, it does not come close to filling the water deficit, and it also brings new worries.
Foothill suburb cities Glendora, Azusa, and Monrovia have a particular risk of mudslides. These cities sit below the San Gabriel mountains, where vegetation that holds soil in place has been burned away because of wildfires. Residents who evacuated in January for the wildfire are being asked to leave again; 1,200 homes are under evacuation orders.
Before leaving, residents placed sandbags in front of their doors, hoping to minimize the damage. Resident Ed Heinlein, who had evacuated with his family on Friday, returned on Saturday to get his family’s cat. Upon his return he saw the damage done to his back yard.
“We’ve got to find a way to get the 100 tons of mud out of my back yard. We’re probably looking at tens of thousands of dollars in damage,” said Heinlein.
Another resident, Jeff White, returned Saturday morning to check on his neighbors and pick up clothes. He informed the Los Angeles Times that while homes had mud on their patios, his home was not damaged.
White, who was evacuated in January because of fires, said, “We evacuated in January, we evacuated in February. We’re just hoping March will better.”
In a webcast news conference, Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Steve Martin, stated, “These mountains are now saturated and soaked. We know where the mud’s gonna go, we just don’t know how much and what the intensity is going to be.”
Along with the danger to homes, these California storms bring other difficulties. Nineteen flights, incoming and outgoing, were canceled at the Los Angeles International Airport. Vehicle crashes have increased. As of noon Friday, California Highway Patrol reported there had 158 vehicle crashes already that day. Utilities companies have been working to restore power, which is out in regions because of falling trees.
Will all of this rain in California make a dent in the drought? Executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies said, “If the drought created an empty gallon jug for us, this storm created a cup and half of water. We would need twenty of those.”
Spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency, Richard Stapler, stated, “Despite these recent storms, it would still have to rain every other day until around May to reach average precipitation totals, and even then we would still be in a drought due to the last two dry years.”
This storm takes the region of Los Angeles to around half of the average rainfall for the season. Before the storms began on Friday, it was only at 10 percent.
The storms in California will help with the drought, but they fall far short of ending it.
By Ashley Campbell
The Washington Post