Tropical Storm Kay Deluge Wreaks Havoc & Death In The Southeast San Bernardino Mountains

The flooding and severe mud flows in Forest Falls, Oak Glen and other spots around the San Bernardino Mountains that followed in the wake of Tropical Storm Kay on Monday, September 12 have claimed at least one life and prompted the county to declare a state of emergency.
As excessive sheetflow was general all over the south-central area of the county, the burn areas created by 2020’s Apple and El Dorado fires experienced a rapid accumulation of water that contributed to a flash flood circumstance.
In Forest Falls, power was knocked out early and no one was able to get in or out of the area as the deluge began and authorities advised residents caught there to hunker down, as it was deemed too dangerous to brave the intense flows across Valley of the Falls Drive. Debris and mud flows rushing down the natural drainages and creek beds proved an overwhelming force throughout in Forest Falls. As the Lower Canyon was threatened by both cascading water and mud flows, an evacuation order for Forest Falls from Canyon Drive to Prospect Drive was given followed by another. Ultimately mudslides destroyed or severely damaged at least 30 homes in the area, in at least two cases moving houses off their foundations. By Tuesday there were reports of six missing persons.
Intensive searches were mounted, despite the conditions. By Thursday, Doris Jagiello, a 62-year-old resident of Forest Falls had yet to be accounted for. Later that day, the San Bernardino County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team located a woman, buried beneath several feet of mud, rocks, and debris. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s coroner division assumed the recovery operation and positively identified the deceased as Doris Jagiello.
According to the sheriff’s department, “As a large debris flow consisting of mud and extremely large boulders raced downhill, it overran Jagiello’s property and impacted her home, causing significant structural damage and carrying away everything in its path.”
A public safety exclusion area remains in place for Prospect Road and Canyon Road in Forest Falls to allow work crews to safely remove the remaining debris and large boulders blocking the roads.
In Yucaipa, Casa Blanca was closed at Oak Glen Road as mudslides created hazards.
In Oak Glen, mudslides resulted in damage to a number of homes, and passage on Oak Glen Road was terminated by an order of the fire department at Little San Gorgonio Creek.
On Highway 38 further up in the San Bernardino Mountains, the road was barricaded between Bryant Street and Lake Williams Drive because the area was subject to mudslides and dislodge boulders.
At a specially-called meeting on Thursday, September 15, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved declaring a state of emergency, which will allow the county to access state and federal emergency aid funding.
The proclamation of the local emergency approved by the supervisors states that the Hurricane Kay “system produced up to 2.4 inches of rain within one hour over the El Dorado/Apple Fire Burn Scar and subsequent intermittent thunderstorms continued through September 13, 2022 at approximately 2200 hours, resulting in a need for emergency protective measures, evacuation orders, shelter in place orders, emergency repairs/detours, and [an] ongoing search and rescue operation of areas impacted by debris flow.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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