Tropical Storm Hilary came and went from the Santa Clarita Valley, bringing record-breaking rain but leaving behind minimal damage, according to city of Santa Clarita officials.
Governments from the city to the federal level, residents, law enforcement and fire departments prepped for what was expected to be a nasty storm and it’s possible these preparations contributed to the fact that no lives were lost.
As far as physical damage at the city level, Carrie Lujan, spokeswoman for the city of Santa Clarita, said there wasn’t much — although some erosion on Sand Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road did force portions of the roads to close.
“We did a lot of preventative work so things are in pretty good shape,” said Lujan.
On Monday, crews from the city’s Public Works Department and from SoCal Gas were working on a section of Sand Canyon Road — between Soledad Canyon Road and Silver Saddle Circle — that was eroded on its shoulders. The section also sustained damage to infrastructure underneath the pavement. Debris was also seen being cleared on Sunday on Soledad Canyon Road.
At the time of this publication, both the previously mentioned section of Sand Canyon Road and two westbound lanes on Soledad Canyon Road between Camp Plenty Road and Langside Avenue are closed until further notice.
Traffic collisions, water rescues and flooding
Approximately 40 local traffic collisions were reported as the storm system passed through the SCV, according to the 9-1-1 dispatcher alert app PulsePoint.
Among those that prompted an inquiry from The Signal to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, no transports were reported and some resulted in minor injuries, according to fire officials.
Three confirmed water rescues were also commenced on Sunday, but all were canceled due to either false reports or rescue teams being unable to locate anyone needing rescue.
According to the SCV Sheriff’s Station, no deaths have been reported and no bodies have been discovered, at the time of this publication.
Flooding was reported in some hillside neighborhoods of the SCV. However, none were said to have significantly damaged any homes or property.
A semi-truck that jackknifed on the Interstate 5 truck route transition into Highway 14 forced the road to close at approximately 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Caltrans stated the connector would be closed until further notice. The route was closed for several hours but was eventually opened back up.
No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
Ahead of the storm, the city Public Works Department handled road closures and debris on the roadways. Stormwater crews inspected storm drains to make sure they were clear in an effort to prevent flooding. The city also took to social media as a way to keep the city’s residents readily informed.
In an Instagram post on Friday, the city emphasized that it was best to be proactive and prepared for Hurricane Hilary.
On Friday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna held a press conference to discuss storm preparedness and safety precautions regarding the storm.
“The (LASD) has been involved in conducting planning meetings with the (L.A.) County Office of Emergency Management and other county departments … to coordinate efforts by LASD and all other county resources to guarantee a smooth and quick response during this storm,” said Luna.
Chris Najarro, executive director of Bridge to Home, said that in extreme weather conditions, Bridge to Home ensures that extra beds are available for those seeking shelter. Hurricane Hilary would be no different.
Najarro said that outreach workers regularly go into the Santa Clara River, which runs from east to west through the SCV, but during extreme weather conditions, they will inform the homeless population of the circumstances for possible relocation and the resources they can take advantage of. Najarro said that, at the end of the day it is, “up to them.”
Lujan said that SCV Sheriff’s Station personnel had gone into the river and creek beds to check if there were homeless individuals on Friday. Code enforcement officials were also sent out to make sure homeless people they came into contact with were warned of the storm and to provide the locations of places they can relocate to.
Many residents in L.A. County headed to local stores and bought water, emergency preparedness supplies and non-perishable food. Some SCV residents did the same, but many remained either apathetic or unconcerned about the impending storm.
Local resident Juan Varela, who was stocking up on water at the Walmart Supercenter on Kelly Johnson Parkway, said he was concerned and was doing everything he could to prepare on Saturday.
“I guess we’ve never been through one, so we don’t know what’s gonna be like,” said Varela. “I think I’m gonna get some of those dry soups, you know, water, too, and definitely get propane.”
Varela added that he was trying to be “low-key” about his buying because did not observe many other people he knew getting ready.
Caroll Barstow, also an SCV resident, said she wasn’t worried about it all and that she was just doing her regular grocery shopping.
“It’s just media hype. We get rain all the time. Well, we don’t get rain all the time, but we had that surge before so, no, not worried at all,” said Barstow. “It could be a little bit bad, but we’ve had trees come down before I’ve had my umbrellas in my pool. I think it’s overhyped, but I don’t blame them for being a little cautious.”
The storm arrives
The northern “arms” of Tropical Storm Hilary arrived in the Santa Clarita Valley at approximately 8 a.m. on Sunday.
By 1 p.m. on Sunday The National Weather Service estimated that over 2 inches of rain fell on the Newhall Pass. Twelve hours later, over 5 inches were reported to have fallen.
Once the storm made landfall in California, it set rainfall records in San Diego before doing the same as it moved up the state. By 5 p.m. on Sunday, it was reported to be between Palomar Mountain and Palm Desert, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm then shifted to the west and was reported to be over the city of Compton by 8 p.m. It then traveled north by northeast toward Lancaster at 28 mph. It glanced at the SCV approximately 1.5 hours later, with rain lasting until 7 a.m.
Several flash flood warnings were issued throughout the day. While some minor flooding occurred in some areas of the SCV, no major flood-related issues were reported.