Labor of love propelling storm cleanup

With a labor of love, areas waterlogged with muddy leftovers from Friday’s violent Pacific storm were on the road to a full recovery on Monday.

With extra hands rallying to dig the communities of Sand and Placerita canyons out of about a foot of mud in some places, the efforts of a few dozen people expedited the process.

As they had done for almost three consecutive days, heavy machinery rattled through the Iron Canyon Creek near Sand Canyon Road south of Fire Station 123 just after first light.

What was unexpected, however, was the multitude of volunteers trading in an opportunity to catch a few extra winks of sleep on President’s Day for some shovels and wheelbarrows.

A group of missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sand Canyon help to clean up mud and debris from the corner of Sand Canyon Road and Iron Canyon Road on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. Katharine Lotze/Signal

“We’ve been working for a couple hours,” said Taylor Cardinal, one of about a dozen volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints working to clear debris from guardrails and a pedestrian walkway.

“There were all these branches (in the road) and we’ve been able to clean them off really quickly,” Cardinal said.

The sturdy man about six feet in height was joined by others on an international mission trip to the Santa Clarita area.

Cardinal, who hails from Canada, was flanked by teens from Mexico and others from as far as the Philippines.

After four hours of hard toil, conditions improved slightly.

“It was pretty terrible, but it’s looking much better,” Cardinal said.

Bill Brandenstein stops his bike ride to take a photo of Iron Canyon Creek on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, as crews continued to clean up the area after Friday’s storm. Katharine Lotze/Signal

About a quarter-mile down Iron Canyon Road, another effort unfolded.

Wheelbarrows rolling in tandem down the driveways of private residences preceded the sound of shovels driven into the ground with a measurable force by the Boy Scouts of Troop No. 499.

“We’re just out here helping,” said Benjamin Hope, a Stevenson Ranch resident assisting the troops with escorting full loads of brown sludge to a dump site.

“It’s very, very heavy,” he said of the challenging weight of the still-wet mud.

The clearance effort centered around the home of Norman Furr, a 17-year resident of Sand Canyon.

With the help of crutches, the man surveyed his family’s land and found it deluged by mud.
Furr shared smartphone video of a rapidly swelling river running across his driveway and through his side yard.

Boy Scouts from Troop 499 of Santa Clarita shake the hands of Iron Canyon Road homeowner Norman Furr, left, after the scouts helped to clear Furr’s driveway of mud and debris on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, following Friday’s storm. Katharine Lotze/Signal

“It was probably going, I’ll estimate, maybe 30 mph,” he said.

“It was going very, very fast.”

The video gave a distinctive perspective of a deluge of mud and debris sloshing through an area baptized by Mother Nature’s flames last July.

But it was the endeavor taken on by a half-dozen Stevenson Ranch Boy Scouts that sent a stream of tears cascading down the man’s face, much like the storm had to area mountains days earlier.

Furr, who lost his left leg at age nine, admitted fear had taken hold after the stormwater effortlessly carried a tall pile of wood pallets about a quarter mile down the road.

But, the man reached into his faith for comfort.

“The Lord’s been good to us, and we all have our troubles,” he said.

“But we pray every day for wisdom and strength and we’re just liable to get it.”


About the author

Austin Dave

Austin Dave

Austin Dave is an award-winning multimedia journalist. He heads The Signal's video news operations while reporting on the Santa Clarita Valley's most impacting topics.