October 13, 2009 in Nation/World

Region near wildfires braces for slides, floods

Storm moving toward California
John Antczak Associated Press
Associated Press photo

David Wacker stands in front of his home in La Crescenta, Calif., where barricades have been set up ahead of a storm that could bring mudslides following the late-summer Station fire.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Southern California communities below wildfire-scorched mountains made preparations Monday for the possibility of fast-moving floods laden with mud and rocks as a Pacific storm headed for the West Coast.

Sandbags and concrete barriers called K-rail were placed on streets in suburbs northeast of Los Angeles to try to direct any debris flows away from homes.

“There’s really nothing else to do but wait and see what happens,” said David Wacker, a 25-year resident of La Crescenta, one of a string of communities along the foot of the steep San Gabriel Mountains.

The U.S. Geological Survey recently warned of potentially massive debris flows from the area burned by the late-summer Station fire. Two firefighters were killed and 89 homes were destroyed as it spread over more than 250 square miles of Angeles National Forest, becoming the biggest fire in Los Angeles County history.

Unusually strong for October and packing gusty winds, the storm was expected to move into northern and central parts of the state Monday night and reach southern areas today, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters said the system was expected to pull in considerable moisture left over from Typhoon Melor, which made a damaging hit on Japan last week after drenching the Northern Mariana Islands.

Rainfall across Southern California was expected to be heavy and widespread, bringing threats of flash flooding and debris flows in burn areas.

“All the ingredients necessary for a big rain event are in place,” the weather service said.

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