Devil's Gate Dam holds during heavy rains

Devil's Gate Dam holds the rising Hahamongna watershed waters in check during the rain in Pasadena on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / February 28, 2014)

La Cañada’s foothill areas held their ground this weekend through a series of massive rainstorms that brought inches of rain to a previously parched landscape. Local officials returning to work on Monday reported all seemed to be well, adding that increased patrols and precautionary measures, along with improved foothill vegetation, likely spared the area from the brunt of the storm’s damage.

City Engineer Ying Kwan said Monday no emergency calls had come in over the weekend.

“We had one drain back up at Chevy Chase [Drive], because a lot of debris clogged up the grate, but for the most part, we did pretty well,” Kwan said.

The storm pattern was expected to bring record rainfall averages, and Los Angeles County’s Fire and Public Works departments beefed up staffing accordingly. On Friday morning, fire patrol trucks cruised side streets, focusing attention on areas like Oceanview Boulevard at the entrance to Paradise Valley, left vulnerable to mudslides after the 2009 Station fire.

Capt. Ray Mitchison, who worked at Los Angeles Fire Department Station 82 throughout the weekend, said Monday the city held up nicely despite the downpour.

“We had a couple of minor floodings, where people’s drains got backed up, but we had no sloughing and no debris flow,” Mitchison said.

According to Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge received 5.40 inches of rain in last week’s storms.

In addition to fire crews, public works employees also patrolled at-risk neighborhoods throughout La Cañada on Friday and Saturday, clearing storm drains of leaves and other dangerous debris.

Crew leader Richard Lopez said Friday the department had worked all through the early morning to make sure roadways were clear.

“We've had a crew out since midnight, working until noon,” he said, adding that the heavy rain began around 3 a.m. that day.

Additionally, public works employees placed sand bags along Oceanview Boulevard, and stockpiled more for use by area resident, Lopez said.

In preparation for the oncoming storm, city crews spent last week clearing drains in areas prone to flooding, according to Kwan.

“We have typical locations that, just by experience are problematic, so we went there to check on and clear everything out,” he said.

Despite some minor rock slides along Angeles Crest Highway, and scattered rocks on Jessen Drive and Haskell Street, no major soil upsets were visible in residential areas on Saturday. Mitchison said the biggest issue was the sheer amount of rain.

“There was a lot of water coming down the main thoroughfares,” he said. “But all the water moved out pretty quickly. The rain would let up, and the water would clear.”

Fire Capt. Robert Taylor, on duty Friday morning, attributed the relative calm in La Cañada, in part, to the vegetation regrowth in the foothills area since the Station fire.

The current concern is for Glendora, where the Colby Fire burned more than 1,900 acres of hillside land in late January. The area is currently undergoing cleanup efforts, after residents returned to their homes Sunday following a voluntary evacuation.

Now that the rain is over, Mitchison says there is still a minor risk that wet soil could slide.

“You could still have movement,” he said. “The next few days will be a tell-tale sign.”

Tree down at Descanso

At Descanso Gardens, a large coast live oak near the Main Lawn toppled in the storm on Friday. Otherwise, no damage was sustained, according to Rachel Young, director of horticulture and garden operations.

“We sand bagged and put up straw wattle to prevent drains from clogging and to minimize erosion on pathways,” Young said. Straw wattle is a tube stuffed with straw which filters water runoff and prevents erosion.

Power outages

At 9:24 a.m. on Friday, some local Southern California Edison (SCE) customers lost power as the result of a damaged power pole, according to SCE spokesman Robert Villegas.

Power was lost in the area from Whittier Drive in La Crescenta to Verdugo Boulevard and from Rosemont Avenue in La Crescenta to Loma Vista Drive in La Cañada, affecting 1,396 homes and businesses, according to Villegas.

Traffic on Foothill Friday had to take caution at Lasheart Drive, Palm Avenue and Alta Canyada Drive, where stoplights were out. The Crescenta-Cañada YMCA also lost power for several hours and closed off its parking lot with yellow caution tape to prevent entry.

Crews were sent to repair the pole, and power was restored by 10:55 p.m. Extra employees were on standby throughout the weekend, Villegas said, and began preparing on Wednesday.

“Now we're back working on traditional maintenance,” he said Monday evening. “We're not in storm mode.”

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Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.

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