In this picture supplied by Caltrans, cars are stopped in mud on California’s Interstate 5 after flooding Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015.
Friday, Oct. 16, 2015|9:09 a.m.
L.A– Emergency teams shoveled mud from an area of Interstate 5 north of L.a after flash flood debris obstructed the vital highway, stranded numerous vehicles, and required some vehicle drivers to take refuge on top of their vehicles.
Excavator trucks scooped and carried away mud in the darkness Thursday night and the clean-up continued well into Friday, leaving countless motorists looking for alternative routes.
About 15 automobiles continued to be wedged in the debris and needed to be hauled out.
There were no reports of deaths or injuries from the flooding Thursday at Fort Tejon, about 75 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, induced by a weather condition system that produced powerful afternoon thunderstorms in the mountains and deserts.
A second highway was closed Thursday night following a separate mudslide. And a number of secondary roads were left impassable from mud and some homeowners were trapped in their homes.
Officials expect the freeway to be reopened around 2 p.m. Friday, California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi stated.
The afflicted area of I-5, one of the state’s major north-south arteries, brings traffic among steep mountains over a pass rising to an elevation of more than 4,100 feet in between the Central Valley and metropolitan Los Angeles.
After getting rid of the debris, a geologist will inspect the stability of nearby slopes before the freeway is reopened, California Department of Transportation spokesperson Lauren Marvel stated previously.
“There might constantly be more slide that comes down onto the roadway,” she stated. “Our engineers are always extremely mindful so they see to it in a flood situation, any hillside is secure.”
The National Weather Service stated a flash flood watch would be in effect once again Friday afternoon and early evening for the mountains and deserts due to the fact that of the danger of more extreme and slow-moving thunderstorms, which raises the potential for flash floods and particles flows.
Pictures of Interstate 5 published on social networks showed the freeway in chaos, with semi-trucks and automobiles sitting askew, stuck in mud that sometimes surpassed their wheels. Not an inch of asphalt was visible.
One of the worst-hit locations was rural Lake Hughes, a tiny mountainside community in northern L.a County. Robert Rocha, a 37-year-old homeowner, said he was driving house from work when the storm arrived.
“It was getting pretty hairy out there,” he said. “I have actually never seen it rain that hard in such a brief period of time, the hail and wind– it was coming down hard,” he said. “The particles was simply intense– chunks of wood and rock flowing everywhere.”
Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Keith Mora stated the company rescued four people and two pet dogs from atop one automobile. A lot more were able to walk to security after waiting out the flood on top of their own automobiles, he stated.
“They were able to utilize their vehicles as a security blanket, to stand on top of and remain higher than the flood water,” Mora said.
In all, the agency reported saving 14 individuals and 8 animals. Los Angeles County firefighters were expecting to go home to house Friday morning to examine any stranded occupants.
The storm was prompted by a low pressure system soaking up moisture from the south. As much as 1.45 inches of rain fell in a fast period of time near where the most intense flooding happened.
The system was anticipated to shift slowly eastward through Friday, National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Sirard said.
State Route 58 in Kern County was closed near the town of Mojave, about 95 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. In a declaration, the California Department of Transportation stated it anticipated the State Path 58 shutdown would be “a long term closure” and advised vehicle drivers to seek alternative routes.
Back in Lake Hughes, Jennifer Stewart stated she had actually just gotten her 17-year-old daughter from school when the storm hit.
“The hail was so bad I believed it was going to break my windshield,” she said.
Stewart stated she was amongst about 30 drivers who were left stranded on a local roadway. Everybody was calm, she stated.
“It’s sort of like a tailgate party without the party,” she stated. “Everyone’s simply silently sitting in their vehicles talking amongst themselves.”