Two days ago, Bouquet Creek resident Monica Ferguson ran out of milk and bread.
She hasn’t received mail in four days and counts on regular deliveries of food, water and propane to sustain her family, she said.
All of that has been thrown into question after officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works announced Monday they were shutting down Bouquet Canyon Road for six months.
“A lot of people are horribly affected by this,” Ferguson told The Signal Tuesday.
Between 50 and 100 residents live on the east banks of Bouquet Creek and are now effectively shut off from the rest of the Santa Clarita Valley, according to Ferguson and others affected by the road closure.
Ferguson is the mother of four, two of her children have special needs.
“My kids go by school bus to Saugus High School, now the bus is not allowed in here,” she said.
“It’s insane. What were they thinking? They gave us no warning. We learned about it from the school,” she said.
Dave Caldwell, spokesman for the William S. Hart Union High School District said Tuesday: ” The District transportation office has been in contact with the family since being informed by the County of the road closure. A home instruction plan has been created for the students in the interim.”
Inside the Department of Public Works Tuesday, the phone would not stop ringing, county officials said.
“I am answering my phone. It’s been a busy, busy day as you can imagine,” Public Works spokesman Steve Frasher said Tuesday.
Frasher was pulled away from the interview by the demands of Bouquet Creek residents phoning with questions about the closure.
Kerjon Lee, another Public Works spokesman said: “We’re getting a lot of calls on this.
“We’re handling these cases case by case,” Lee said. “This is being considered a high level priority. We know the closure has significantly upset a lot of folks north of the closure.”
It was county concerns about safety over the flooding of Bouquet Canyon Creek, however, that prompted county officials to shutdown Bouquet Canyon Road until April.
Weekend rains convinced officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to close the flood-sensitive road as a safety precaution, fearing traffic collisions and injury.
“The road, which was closed Thursday, October 27, due to predicted rain, will remain closed to all traffic at least through winter storm season, which officially ends on April 15,” Public Works officials announced Monday in a news release.
The closure extends from the gate approximately six miles south of Spunky Canyon Road, (near Mile Marker 12.55, just south of Big Oaks Lodge), to the gate near the southern boundary of Angeles National Forest (near Mile Marker 15.97, two miles north of Vasquez Canyon Road).
Bouquet Creek resident Richard Knox said the community is shutoff now from the rest of the Santa Clarita Valley.
“My wife just had an operation, I had to leave her in Santa Clarita,” he said, describing the community as made up of US Forest Service residents and of “in-holders” who actually own the land.
“This is really a suburb of the Santa Clarita Valley,” Knox said. “It really depends on the services of the Santa Clarita Valley.
“We are now a suburb hung out nowhere and connected to nothing,” he said.
“The implications for people who have their life-savings wrapped up in these homes is enormous,” he said. “We received no community warning at all.”
County officials have been wrestling with ways of repairing the road for the past three years.
But since the vulnerable section of road runs through federal land, workers need a special permit from the federal government to clear the creek of debris.
Since they cannot obtain the permit, they cannot remove the silt and debris, and were compelled to close the road.
“We cannot remediate the area, which means we cannot stabilize the road,” Frasher said Monday.
This flood-prone section of Bouquet Canyon Road is owned by the U.S. Forest Service and is operated under permit by LA County Public Works.
At the center of frustrated efforts to remove the silt and repair the road are federal rules protecting the habitat of an endangered fish called the unarmored threespine stickleback.
In 2004, after pressure from environmentalists, officials at the U.S. Forest Service took steps to protect the stickleback’s home in Bouquet Creek. The canyon falls mostly within Angeles National Forest land, so USFS officials followed federal guidelines for the protection of endangered critters and preserved the stickleback’s habitat by leaving the creek undisturbed.
Doing nothing may have saved the home of the unarmored threespine stickleback, but it also halted county work crews that routinely cleared the Bouquet Creek bed where the fish lives.
Without the annual cleaning, the creek bed began to silt up. That process was accelerated when the Buckweed Fire raged through the area in 2007, destroying vegetation and sending debris and sediment pouring into the creek.
Frasher told The Signal Monday that any amount rain now causes flooding on Bouquet Canyon Road.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt