January 2010 Storms and Parental Unit Update

Mom and Dad are safe, and in their Arrowhead house. There was a bad scare yesterday as they got snowed in at Arrowhead big time, followed shortly by the power going out, and the heat with it. I finally got a call from Mom and Dad, and they told me that their neighbor had a generator and threw them an extension cord for their heater, and then finally late that evening, the power in Arrowhead came back on. I feel better knowing that there is a neighbor that will at least keep their heater on in an emergency short term, and Dad has agreed that some sort of electric start generator and/or propane heat source is required for the Arrowhead house in the near future.

The La Canada house is doing as well as can be expected. The basketball court is a mud/water river, flowing out onto the street. The huge LA County storm drain in the back of the property is totally plugged, and all the water is coming down on the surface, and going down thru the basketball court and onto the street. The good news is that the water is fairly clear, not a lot of debris flowing right now, and no mud or water has breached the emergency wall that my sister, Elaine, started for Dad, in between the basketball court, and the pool & house. That wall continues to grow in height and reinforcement, and after this series of storms, if the La Canada house survives, it may grow some more.

There is still at least one more storm front coming in, there are heavy downpours expected in the early AM today in La Canada. Probably also means more snow for Arrowhead. Just what the Doctor ordered...NOT! Evacuations in La Crescenta/La Canada and surrounding communities has topped 1000 homes., and it may get worse. They say that another series of storms appears to be loading up in the Pacific, right on the same track as this one.

Mom and Dad only have cell phones up in Arrowhead, no internet, no landline, not even any TV (cable is out, and the old VCR is broken). Texting them does not work, they don't know how to read or send txt messages. Calling them is also an adventure, they don't know how to turn on the ringer, so one of the cell phones only vibrates, and the reception in the Arrowhead house is spotty at best, half the time they turn off one of the the phones if they are not making an outgoing call to save the battery, in case the power goes out again.

Are we having fun yet? More as it develops...

January 2010 SoCal Storms and Mud

The "Storm of January 2010" has hit California like a freight train. My folks, just recovering from the trauma of the Station Fire in La Canada, are "on the road" again, evacuating their home due to the danger of mudslides.

Once again, I find myself wanting much more information about the situation up here in the Redwoods of Northern California than is easily available. Similar to the info source I set up and referenced in my blog post(s) about the Station Fire, I have setup a new "TweetGrid" with three columns to help provide information to all those interested in the #LaCanada #MudSlides.

TweetGrid #LaCanada #MudSlides: http://is.gd/6xXpk

The first column of my TweetGrid is a twitter list which currently has four informative twitter accounts on it, I shall keep adding accounts to this list as I identify informative twitter accounts, and the tweetgrid should automatically update. The second TweetGrid column uses the following search string: "La Canada" OR #lacanada OR mudslide OR #mudslides OR "Station Fire" OR #stationfire. The third column is "La Crescenta" OR Sunland OR Tujunga OR Moorpark OR "Ocean View" OR Briggs OR "Angeles Crest" OR "Angeles National Forest" AND -chiropratic

NOTE: the "-chiropratic eliminates any tweet containing the word, "chiropratic." If you are bugged by non-relevant search results in your TweetGrid setup, find a unique relevant word that will eliminate that from the search, add a minus sign, and put it in the search string just like I did with "-chiropratic AND"

Hang on tight folks, the storm and mudslides are going to end up a worse disaster than the Station Fire itself. Lets keep an eye out for each other, whether we are in the middle of the mud, or a thousand miles away. We cannot stop the rain or the mud, but we can prove we are not going anywhere, and, to quote Jerry, "we will survive."

A public thank you to the LA Department of Public Works

ED. Another post from my Father.



FROM:           BILL GEHR


Chris:  You may remember that I have, in the past, sometimes been critical of the Department of Public Works.  Not this time!

I want to commend the administration for the attention they have given to this at risk area.  I know that there are other ares of the County that are as devastated as is La Canada, and I find it remarkable that your department has been able to protect all of them from the recent three-day storm as well as you have. 

As much as we are grateful to the administration, we are equally indebted to the dedicated workers who risked their lives to alleviate the flood danger.  They labored mightily to unplug the drain from the unexpected, intense November rain storm, and they were there in the latest freezing cold and pouring down rain, checking our Catch Basin and drain almost every one-half hour.  I am certain that our home was spared primarily because of their valiant efforts.

Thank you, and thanks to them.  We are eternally grateful.

Bill and Robin Gehr

Playing mud roulette in La Canada

ED. The following post is an e-mail from my father:

Well, the sheriff came around last night about 6:00 PM, and told us to
evacuate,  They said we didn't have to if we didn't want to, but if we
were going to stay, they wanted to know it so they could identify the
bodies the next day.  

Needless to say, we made like hockey players, and "got the puck out of

Stuck the dogs in a kennel, and checked into the Best Western Eagle Rock
Inn.  Woke up this morning to a bright sunshiny morning; packed up and
went home, where everything was just fine.  I have now taken the plywood
from in front of the sliding glass doors, unplugged the pool overflow
pump, and we are enjoying the sunshine. 

A couple of neighbors down the street were not so fortunate--mud in their
yard, but thank goodness, no mud in their house.  One of our other
neighbors on Wednesday had had a complicated hernia operation, oops, I
mean a "surgical procedure;" complicated because the hernia had wrapped
itself around the intestine.  They had to evacuate, and he was having
difficulty even walking.  They are elderly.  His wife called a limo
service, and told them that whoever they sent had to be able to handle
the luggage, and to assist a 180 lb man into the car and out of the car
at the hotel.  The limo service said not to worry, and sent a huge
weight-lifter guy who literally picked the man up and carried him into
the limo. 

I hope it gets a chance to completely dry out before we get the next

Bill & Robin

What comes after Fire? Mud!

My parents were interviewed by ABC news in La Canada yesterday, and they aired the segment today. My mom talks on camera, and you can see my dad and sister in the background working to put in sand bags, etc. You can also see my family home. If the mud comes, this may be the last pics I ever see of it!

source page: http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/1009/668083_video.html?ref=newsstory

(my Mom's interview is at the 1 minute mark)

Dad and Mom post about the "Station Fire"

Wednesday Sept. 2, 2009, 3:20 PM

Well, we are finally back in our home.

I woke up at about 5:00 AM on Saturday, and although there did not seem to be any immediate fire danger, the smoke and ash were very thick. As the sun came up, the falling ash looked like grey snow, and it was difficult to breathe..  Finally about 7:45 AM I woke Robin, and told her we had to get out of here.

We threw a few things in the car, along with the two dogs and the cat and drove up to our place in Lake Arrowhead.  We were already gone, but apparently, a mandatory evacuation notice was issued about 11:00 AM, and the sheriffs came by and told everyone to leave. 

We don't have a landline phone at Arrowhead, so no internet, but we kept in touch with cell phone.  Our son Greg (who lives in Humboldt County) started monitering the internet and keeping us informed.  He started a blog listing all the internet sites concerning the "Station Fire," including the City of La Canada Flintridge site which has an active website that has been updated hourly with detailed information as to closures and evacuations.  Some of the news reports and the website updates were getting their information off Greg's blog--pretty funny, since he lives almost 700 miles away. 

We were also kept up to date via cell phone connection with a few neighbors, some of whom stayed at their homes in spite of the mandatory evacuation orders.  We are very indebted to them and their willingness to share their "on-the-site" observations. \

At about 5:30 PM last evening, it came over the radio that the mandatory evacuation notice had been lifted.  Unfortunately, our cat had decided that the bedspread made a much more attractive place to do his business than the litter box, so when the notice was announced over the radio, we had just put the huge bedspread and the sheeets in the washing machine at the laundermat.  The washing, rinsing and drying cycle takes over an hour, and it takes another half hour to get back to our home at Arrowhead, and then two hours to drive back to La Canada. 

So, we decided to stay there last night, and come home this morning.  Unfortunately, when we were ready this morning to come home, the Damn cat couldn't be located.  He finally came back about 1:00 PM, and we drove home and arrived about 3:00 PM.

It is nothing short of miraculous.  There are almost sixty houses in our neighborhood, all of them backed up to the Angelus National Forest, AND NOT ONE SINGLE HOUSE WAS LOST.

The fire burned down to within a few feet of the landscaping, but was stopped, not only before it burned our house, but stopped before it burned our landscaping--Amazing!!!  Even our pine trees were saved. 

Everything is a mess.  A thick layer of ash covers everything.  Our pool is black with ash and soot.  The house reeks of smoke, but there is no permanent damage.

Anyway, that's the latest report on the Gehr saga--we're all fine, and our house is fine, as are the houses of all our neighbors.  God was keeping watch over us--and so were the heroic firemen who risked their lives to save our property. 

Bill & Robin 

La Canada Fire (also called "Station Fire") threatening homes, causing evacuations

Photo by k8jonez: Oceanview near Foothill - border between La Canada and La Crescenta http://twitpic.com/ftf78

Please note, this post is now closed.  However, most of the links are to dynamic information sources that update periodically, and can still be of great value to anyone trying to stay on top of the fires.

I have tried to move links to photos, videos, and news articles that are "static" to the next post down, , and have labeled the time and date to next to most of the news links.

I started this list because my parents live in La Canada, and I was (and continue to be) worried from the other end of California.  It was very hard to find a good source of fairly current information about this fire, and I have never been one to sit quietly and do nothing, so I decided to aggregate my own sources of info, and they have proved useful. Whether you live near the fires, or have friends or family that do, I hope that this information will be of some use to you too.




Here is the tweetgrid.com layout that I am using to monitor twitter for up to date info on the fire (lots of pics too).  I think that this tweetgrid is the best source of raw, up to the minute information that I have found, give it a try! http://is.gd/2ES3L 

I have been asked what search terms are used for the columns in the tweetgrid.com link, above (which you should feel free to modify).

They are:

1. La Canada OR Flintridge

2. La Crescenta OR Tujunga OR Sunland -handyman (the "-handyman" switch eliminates some annoying twitter spam)

3. "Angeles National Forest" OR "Station Fire" OR "Angeles Crest"

4. Altadena

Likewise, there is an updating graphics engine at Twitcaps that will present you with photos and videos from around the web.  I am using the search term "La Canada", please modify it to your town or even "station fire" for slightly different results.  http://twitcaps.com/search?q=La+Canada

KNX1070 has streaming audio available and is doing fantastic job of covering fire, very current info. (and, it even works on my mac!) http://www.knx1070.com/

KABC is a great source of streaming video, @wilw (author/director/actor Wil Wheaton) on twitter sez "Thank you to @abc7 for being the ONLY local station covering the huge brushfire that's threatening homes in La Crescenta, where I grew up."  http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/index

Live fire and police radio frequencies can be monitored streaming over web here (try the feeds with the most listeners first)http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/?ctid=201

La Canada Flintridge city website has fire updates. Looks like they're posted hourly (mostly): http://www.lacanadaflintridge.com/

Insightful and information-rich blog of the fire from a firefighter's perspective.  Great maps and satellite imagery. http://firefighterblog.blogspot.com/

Angeles National Forest Incident Information System - http://inciweb.org/incident/1856/ http://tr.im/xk1L

Aggregated data collected by the Los Angeles Times and displayed in Google Maps http://tr.im/xknl

Mount Wilson Observatory Webcam (west view), LIVE! Updated every two minutes.    http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~obs/towercam.htm

Mt Wilson Observatory Blog, lots of fire updates from their perspective: http://www.mtwilson.edu/fire.php

ENPLAN Wildfire viewer, Interactive California Wildfire Map, fed by MODIS satellite data (Heat detect data updates received from satellites every 6 hours and it refreshes map data hourly.).  Go to search box on right about half way down screen, enter zip for La Canada 91011) and the sat. map will zoom to a < script src="http://posterous.com/javascripts/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js?1251749459" type="text/javascript"> prox area of fires.  Then go to "hybrid" view to get street overlay, and zoom in on fire area(s) of interest http://www.enplan.com/fires/

The LA County Fire Department website with tips for evacuations and safety during fire storm situations. http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/SafetyPreparedness/SafetyPrepFireStorms.asp

City of Glendale Emergency Opera tions Center fire information (lists evacuation info for La Crescenta): http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/

Altadena blog begins to track fire updates as fire spreads in that direction.  They have redirected a weathercam toward the approaching fire. http://www.altadenablog.com/2009/08/station-fire-continuing-updates.html

Directory of Glendale blog starts tracking fire updates: http://www.directoryofglendale.com/blog/headline/hourly-updates-la-canada-fli...

"The Real La Canada" friend feed is collecting information and stories about the fire from locals, check it out at http://friendfeed.com/thereallacanada

Another good list of resources, photos, and other information about the Station Fire from Susan Kitchens at 2020 Hindsight: http://www.2020hindsight.org/2009/08/29/station-fire-in-la-canada/

Excellent article about the the effects of this and other fires on the local residents by Kathy Kristof of CBS Moneywatch  http://tr.im/xqtJ

This is Station Fire: http://twitpic.com/fx2f8

8/31/09 NEW LINKS:

As the fire spreads, there are new links that may begin to contain relevant information to those tracking the fires, such as:

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff incident news web site: http://incident.scvsheriff.com/news_room/

LA County Fire Department information: http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/

LA County Department of Public Works, Road Closure Info: http://dpwgis.co.la.ca.us/website/roadclosures/main.cfm

Phil Hulett of KFWB is back on the job, get breaking fire updates at http://twitter.com/philhulett/

TCN North Now: news about Glendale, Crescenta Valley, Burbank and La Cañada - summarizes some good local fire news coverage: http://tcnnorth.wordpress.com/


***Please note, this post is now closed.  However, most of the links are to dynamic information sources that update periodically, and can still be of great value to anyone trying to stay on top of the fires.