CA mudslides kill 1, strand hundreds in mountain communities

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Forest Falls, CA, United States (4E) – Crews worked to clear mud walls that cut off Forest Falls in San Bernardino County, California while firefighters evacuated 500 people trapped by mudflow at a church camp in the secluded mountain town on Monday.

Crews sweeping through mountain communities also saw homes damaged by mud and water as authorities confirmed one death from mudslides triggered by heavy rains in Mt. Brady over the weekend.

Mud and rocks as high as 10 feet cut across Valley of the Falls Drive, which connects Forest Falls to Highway 38. Firefighters punched a hole through walls of mud allowing stranded residents and some 500 children and staff of the Forest Home camp to make their way out of town, according to San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Ryan Beckers.

Meanwhile, mudslides swept a car off a mountain road into a swollen creek killing its driver on Sunday. Authorities identified the fatality on Monday as Joo Hwan Lee, 48, of El Segundo. He was killed inside his car in the Bear Creek community, near Mt. Baldy.

No one else from Forest Falls, which has a population of 2,000, was reported injured or missing.

Firefighters will be working the Forest Falls area for the next three to four days, said San Bernardino Fire Capt. Kyle Hauducoeur.

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