Cleanup begins after California floods

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

MOUNT BALDY, Calif. — They came with shovels, hands and heart to dig out their neighbors in the aftermath of deadly Southern California flooding.

Dozens of muddy volunteers attacked tons of muck that was left a day after flash floods sent dirt, rock and mud roaring down on the tiny mountain towns of Mount Baldy and Forest Falls east of Los Angeles — in some cases burying homes up to their roofs.

Joo Hwan Lee, 48, of El Segundo, was driving on a road on Mount Baldy when his car was smashed by a wave of mud and debris Sunday that swept the Toyota Prius 200 feet, authorities said. It smashed it up against boulders and a tree, with its windshield shattered and the inside filled with dirt. Lee died at the scene.

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The floods stranded thousands of people, washed away and inundated cars and damaged about 30 homes, including a dozen that were uninhabitable in Mount Baldy and Forest Falls.

Roads to both places were ruled by bulldozers and other heavy equipment working under sunny skies Monday to clear mud and rocky debris.

But it was boots and backs that helped Gloria Flickinger dig out after a river of rock flowed into her Mount Baldy backyard. Two bearded men ferried wheelbarrows of stone and grime out of her backyard Monday.

Her rear entrance was buried nearly 2 feet in muck and her garage basement with laundry and school supplies for her special education class was flooded in ankle-deep water.

“I almost had a heart attack when I came home,” she said.

She was up until 3 a.m. trying to clean up the mess.