Stormed

By Jim Kelly and LeAnn Robinson / Hi-Desert Star

Chaos: Extreme confusion and disorder. The one word sums up Wednesday afternoon in Yucca Valley when approximately 1.6 inches of rain fell in a two-hour period.

As of Friday afternoon, the Town of Yucca Valley had preliminary estimates of 125 homes damaged for a loss of $125,000. Nineteen business had also reported damage to the town government with an estimated loss of $134,000.

Several vehicles and some roads also sustained damage when they were swept away by the fast-moving water throughout Yucca Valley.

Emergency conditions

Yucca Valley Town Manager Mike Stewart signed an emergency document declaring a state of emergency within Yucca Valley Wednesday afternoon.

The Town opened its emergency operations center in response to flooding throughout the community.

The storm caused roads to be closed and dangerous driving conditions due to significant amounts of dirt and debris being washed into the road.

According to Tracy Martinez of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the agency made at least 21 swift-water rescues, many caused by motorists ignoring roadblocks.

Adding to the rough driving conditions in the Basin Wednesday was the closure of I-15 near Zzyzx, making the Morongo Basin an alternate route of travel for six to eight hours, according to Officer Andy Williams of the California Highway Patrol.

Cleanup efforts

With Yucca Valley Town Council's unanimous ratification of the Town's state of emergency Thursday evening and the earmarking of $60,000 from emergency reserves, cleanup efforts went into high gear Friday.

"These events aren't at all unusual in the Hi-Desert," said Deputy Town manager Shane Stueckle, "and we didn't come through this one too badly."

With the exception of a swift and damaging flood that came down Palm Avenue and closed the Social Security building at Twentynine Palms Highway, Thursday's evaluation revealed a pretty routine cleanup.

In addition to trucks and loaders on hand, the Town has rented some earth-moving equipment and has hired two local contractors to help.

Cleaning crews were working at each end of Onaga Trail Friday morning, making their way toward each other. Mountain View Trail and then Sunnyslope Trail were scheduled to be cleaned up after Onaga Trail by Town work crews.

A contracted crew was working on Joshua Lane and Joshua Drive, while Caltrans worked on cleaning up the dirt and debris on Twentynine Palms Highway.

Hi-Desert Water District equipment and crews were also helping the Town in cleanup.

Damage to HDWD pipelines, meters and hydrants was minimal, according to General Manager Lee Pearl.

Four water lines were undermined, but services were only briefly interrupted to some customers.