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Burn areas brace for flooding

Residents and city leaders in Glendale and La Crescenta stock up on sandbags and draft debris-flow prevention plans, hoping to avoid the fatal flooding that has buried the region in the past.

October 04, 2009|Baxter Holmes

Not far from Kenny Senstad's home in Montrose, a memorial marks the deaths of 12 people in the New Year's Eve flood of 1934 -- which followed a disastrous 1933 fire.

"Every time I look at it, it reminds me of all the people that died," said Kenny. And that's why the 12-year-old Boy Scout came out Saturday to help fill sandbags at Dunsmore Park in La Crescenta.

The Station fire left many burn areas -- including nearly all of the 700-acre Deukmejian Wilderness Park -- devoid of vegetation that would stop debris from flowing toward homes during winter rains.

So the city of Glendale is organizing the sandbag sessions, stockpiling more than 3,000 of the filled burlap sacks and 2,000 concrete beams to distribute to areas of potential risk.

"We're hoping for the best, preparing for the worst," one city official said.

The city will distribute those materials after analyzing preliminary maps from the U.S. Geological Survey and other services to project debris flows under certain conditions of precipitation.

USGS scientists, meanwhile, will install gauges in Dunsmore Canyon on Tuesday to measure rainfall in burn areas and water flow across the ground.

"The scary part" for residents is that flooding and mudslides can occur years after a fire, said Mike Lawler, 53, president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley. "We may be waiting years for mudslides."

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baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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