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Mudslides hit Baldwin Hills homes


Estimated $11 billion in damage across Southland

The torrential downpours across the Los Angeles Basin this month have wreaked havoc along the hillsides, especially in nearby Baldwin Hills.

The area is familiar with mudslides and the effects of wildfires, but the deluge resulting from El Nino conditions has resulted in considerable worry for homeowners. At press time, February brought with it some 12.56 inches of rain resulting in some 475 mudslides and almost 400 trees uprooted across the region.

In Baldwin Hills and surrounding neighborhoods, numerous homes have been yellow-tagged or red-tagged as mud, rocks and debris inundated a number of residences. At the bottom of the slope, La Brea Avenue has been periodically closed because of mud flows. To date, the storm has had an economic impact estimated at $11 billion in damages and losses. 

The most recent rainfall saw about six inches of rain and was so destructive that it disrupted a local Baldwin Hills resident with mud flowing into her home, shattering a sliding-door window as it began creeping toward her bedroom. “A.G.” saw her backyard fence damaged to the point of it requiring removal during last winter’s storms. Now she hopes that the latest rainfall will not bring anymore damage as the ground has become saturated and hillsides have become even more precarious.

“A.G” hopes that the county will provide Baldwin Hills residents with a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant to help protect properties from more damage. Many local residents have taken to tarping and sandbagging their yards and [county] property to prevent further damage.

The hillside overlooking La Brea Avenue is an area of concern for the residents of Baldwin Hills. The hillside is covered in ice plants which absorb water and weigh down the hillside causing mud to spread up and down the hillside and sometimes into the homes of residents who live in Baldwin Hills. “A.G.” offered a suggestion of what should be done to help forestall future damage: “ Well you have to start with the hillside, it has to be protected,” she said. “You have to have a drainage system on the hillside. Once you have a drainage system on the hillside then you can make the homeowners responsible.” 

Flood insurance is of no use to residents who have them as the mudslides are considered a Natural Disaster and the insurance doesn’t cover anything outside of the homes. The hillside is overgrown with ice plants–necessary to help prevent fire damage to homes just above the slope–but they block any opportunity for a proper drainage system to be installed. “A.G.” said the County of Los Angeles has yet to repair the clogged drainage system that will prohibit further damage to homes and yards.

Another heavy storm across the Southland is expected on Saturday