Santa Paula Times

Harvey Drive homes evacuated as hillside starts to slide

January 27, 2010
Santa Paula News

A voluntary evacuation order was issued Thursday afternoon for residents of four Harvey Drive homes after those in the area spotted a rivulet of mud coming down the steep hillside behind Santa Paula Hospital.

 The hillside has slid twice before in 2005 and 1998, the latter incident causing two homes to be red-tagged. 

Santa Paula Fire Assistant Chief Kevin Fildes said the activity was almost expected during the week that saw about nine inches of rain fall in the local area: “When it rains like this for days it’s going to be an issue,” and the city is “taking precautions because of the amount of rain we’ve had.”

Fildes called the evacuations “precautionary,” and noted that one residence is vacant. The homes were red-tagged, although limited access is allowed during daylight hours.

“Three families were advised, until the rain stopped and we get some time to dry out, that it would be best not to sleep there at night,” when Fildes said they would not likely be able to tell if the hillside continued to move. “We have to be cognizant of the hill moving, and according to the soil engineers it will continue to have movement because of the heavy rain. His suggestion and ours was if the hill starts to move, get out.”

The occupants of the three houses were able to make arrangements for shelter until they are allowed back into their homes at night. SPFD Chief Rick Araiza said Monday the situation continues to be monitored on a daily basis.

Fildes said residents throughout the city are urged to take proactive measures to deal with storms. “We remind people to keep their gutters and drains clear and free of debris, monitor them during non-rain periods and make sure” they are clear of debris. “Some people have elaborate drainage systems, especially on the hill, and I would urge them to check frequently so it doesn’t become a problem for themselves or their neighbors.”

Fire Station 81 located on South 10th Street did a brisk business in sandbags during the height of last week’s storms and will continue to offer them to Santa Paula residents only and, said Fildes, on an emergency basis. As of Friday he said the SPFD had “gone through at least 100 tons of sand and 500 bags, quite a few.”

Rain was forecast to begin Monday evening and continue into Tuesday, but the latest weather forecast called for partly cloudy skies through the rest of the week.