LOS ANGELES (AP) — Crews on Sunday pulled dozens of stranded cars and trucks free and reopened some Southern California roads that were buried in tons of mud during flash flooding.
Los Angeles County crews reopened stretches of five roads in mountain communities about 40 miles north of Los Angeles.
The reopening “comes well ahead of original forecasts” with more than 40 bulldozers, dump trucks and other heavy equipment working through the weekend to shift an estimated 200,000 cubic yards of mud, according to a Los Angeles County Public Works statement.
Work continued on two other roads in the Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth areas that were inundated as thunderstorms unleashed flash flooding on Thursday.
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In nearby Kern County, more than 100 cars, buses, RVs and big-rig trucks were trapped on State Route 58.
As of Sunday afternoon, only 2 big-rigs and five cars were left to free, although efforts to remove the tons of now-hardened mud covering the highway were just beginning, said Florene Trainor, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation.
Officials hoped to reopen the lanes by Thursday at the latest.
Geologists determined that nearby hillsides were stable so there was no fear of another mudslide should it start raining again, Trainor said in an email.
The area got some morning drizzle on Sunday but no serious rain.
Hundreds of cars also were stuck on Interstate 5, a major artery, but those vehicles were cleared and the freeway reopened by late Friday.
Homeowners in northern Los Angeles County communities were spending their weekend digging mud out of their houses.
Kerjon Lee, a spokesman for county Public Works, said Saturday that at least one of the homes in the area is considered a total loss after flooding ripped it from its foundation. Crews were continuing to assess homes in the area, and Lee said the number of those destroyed could rise.
Gary and Gina Hartle, who own a 70-acre horse ranch in Lake Hughes, said they have so much work to restore their property, they have no idea how long it will take.
“Our property is 75 percent devastated,” Gina Hartle, 54, told The Associated Press as she surveyed the damage. “We can’t access our homes too well right now because everything is washed out.”
She said the two homes on the land seemed like they were OK, but that one of the homes was without water because of an inundated pump, and their 20-foot trailer is nowhere in sight.
“It either got buried or it’s downriver,” Hartle said.
Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report.