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DELUGE TAKES TOLL IN QUARTZ HILL 40 STRUCTURES RECEIVE FLOOD DAMAGE IN RAINS.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

QUARTZ HILL - Torrential rains and water flowing downhill from new subdivisions damaged more than 40 homes, business, garages and other structures around downtown Quartz Hill.

As nearly half a year's worth of rain fell in two days, muddy water blocked streets, seeped over doorsills and undermined pavement Wednesday as residents, business people and emergency crews piled up sandbags to try to limit the damage.

``It think it's horrible and I blame it on all the recent development,'' said Quartz Hill Town Council President Ed Frommer, who had to put sandbags around his home and whose neighbors' yards and horse corrals were flooded.

Rainfall since Monday night was measured at 3.24 inches in Quartz Hill, 3.16 inches in central Lancaster, 4.13 inches in west Palmdale, 3.37 inches in east Palmdale and 4.96 inches in Acton, as of afternoon Wednesday.

That's nearly triple the valley's average total rainfall during December of a little more than an inch, and nearly half of the annual average. The annual average is 7.45 inches in Lancaster and 7.73 inches in Palmdale, the National Weather Service said.

Flooding closed a half-dozen streets Wednesday in Palmdale, including Sierra Highway near Technology Drive, where water from the Anaverde Creek flood channel backed up near the Metrolink tracks.

Cleaning up all the mud and debris from Palmdale streets will likely take weeks, Public Works Director Leon Swain said.

Flooding closed five streets in Lancaster. Public works crews had to shore up 50th Street West and build a berm to divert water away from the entrance to a neighborhood off Avenue K, Lancaster spokeswoman Anne Aldrich said.

From Tuesday night through Wednesday afternoon, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mike Jasperson estimated that more than 40 structures of all sorts were affected by flooding in Quartz Hill.

``It started last night with the heavy downpour we got all night long,'' Fire Inspector Mike McCormick said Wednesday. ``It's definitely a mess in Quartz Hill.''

More than 100 fire camp crew inmates were at work Wednesday in Quartz Hill, as well as crews sent out by the Los Angeles County Public Works Department.

On Avenue L-2 in Quartz Hill, Carl Coronado stood in ankle-deep water in front of his front door. An inch or so of water got into his house before dawn, destroying the carpet.

Even though the rain had stopped by noon and sandbags protected his porch, muddy water was still pouring off the street and into his front yard.

``At 4:30 in the morning it was a lake,'' Coronado said. He has lived in the house for two years. He's had to put out sandbags before, but never had flooding.

Up the street, neighbors watched as fire camp inmates placed sandbags to try to control the water that gushed between homes. The water gouged a ditch beside the pavement.

``This happens every single year,'' said Bonnie Laurent, who has lived on the street since 1987.

Laurent's home wasn't damaged, but water seeped into the home of neighbor David Rosser.

``My whole yard was a pool,'' Rosser said.

Said another neighbor, who didn't want his name used: ``It was a very scary situation.''

A draft report is due to be presented next week to Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich's office on a study on flood-control alternatives that include creating an underground drain to take storm runoff off Quartz Hill streets.

The study, financed by Antonovich's office, is aimed at suggesting immediate steps that can be taken as well as finding ``a full, long-term solution to this flooding that's been a problem on an annual basis,'' said Antonovich aide Norm Hickling.

Hickling is scheduled to discuss the draft report at the Jan. 18 meeting of the Quartz Hill Town Council. The council, a nongovernmental advisory panel, meets at 6:30 a.m. at Lane Park, on 55th Street East at Avenue L-8.

Hickling said he knew of no indications Wednesday that the flooding was the result of problems with storm-water catch basins designed to slow the flow of water from upstream in Palmdale or Lancaster.

``There's just a tremendous amount of rain,'' Hickling said.

Frommer said he believes developers and officials of Palmdale and Lancaster and Los Angeles County should bear responsibility for the Quartz Hill damage and for solving the problem.

He advised residents with flood damage to take photos before the water recedes.

``The building has changed the natural course of the water flow,'' Frommer said.

Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742

chuck.bostwick(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) A rainbow spreads its colors Wednesday over Joshua trees near Avenue P and the Sierra Highway in Palmdale.

(2 -- 3) Children, above, play on flooded Avenue L-2 in Palmdale as fire crews, also below, prepare sandbags against flooding.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 30, 2004
Words:811
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