By Al Morrissette
Special to High Desert Daily
(Phelan) — The first onslaught of winter rain storms hit the Tri-Community starting on Saturday, Dec 18 with some rain and snow in higher elevations. By Monday the hillside saturations brought a steady flow of mud and debris filling storm channels throughout the Tri-Community in a manner that has not been seen since the turn of the century.
County Transportation Supervisor, Roy Montry and his crews have been diligent in their efforts to prepare the communities but as he explained, it is difficult to prepare for this type of inclement concentration. During a last minute clean up of the Sheep Creek he nearly lost one of his workers and a large Caterpillar D9 dozer. The dozer was in the creek bed clearing boulders when a flash flood wall of water hit it.
Lone Pine Canyon Rd will remain closed during the storms and several roads in Wrightwood have sustained wash outs and other damage that require their closure. A weekender house on Mockingbird Rd in Wrightwood sustains extensive flood damage and several homes in the Desert Front Rd area were reported as evacuated for safety and not for damage. The Sheep Creek Crossing at Desert Front Rd engulfed the concrete Arizona crossing and carves 2 new courses parallel to that crossing. Some residents tried to use Scrub Oak Rd to enter that area but the creek flow was too severe and unsafe. Desert Front Rd remains closed to all vehicles at the wash crossing though some residents took matters in their own hands and circumvent the closure with 4 wheel drive vehicles.
Monday afternoon brought havoc to some areas serviced by the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Service District as their field crew had to shut off some service in the Desert Front area due to potential line breakage at the Sheep Creek Wash. They also worked into the night shutting off a main line break on the Sheep Creek Bridge on Phelan Rd. Phelan Rd was closed at the bridge due to the creek filling with mud to the point that flood waters were splashing onto the roadway.
Duncan Rd between Silver Rock Rd and Buckwheat Rd was closed. This is where the county is doing a paving project from Oasis Rd to Buckwheat and where the creek crosses the road. A resident was stranded in the creek bed until some PPHCSD crew members were able to contact the road contractor who used a road grader to pull the SUV to safety. Hwy 18 was closed for several hours as Sheep Creek cascaded over the roadway in a swift and volatile manner.
This winter is predicted to be a rainy rather than snowy and all local residents should prepare for the inevitable road closures and keep plenty of emergency preparedness supplies on hand. Sandbags are available though the local fire departments but supply is limited.