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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Hikers stranded by storm in Los Padres are rescued


    Dozens of hikers stranded in the Los Padres National Forest because of rising creek waters were rescued Monday, while utility crews restored electricity to thousands of people who lost power during Sunday’s record-setting rains.

    The storm brought 3 to 6 inches of rain to much of Ventura County, breaking records in Camarillo and Oxnard. Numerous power lines and trees were downed by the storm, including several trees that hit homes.

    Partly cloudy conditions were expected today, with lighter rain expected to return Wednesday.

    According to the National Weather Service, a half-inch to an inch could fall Wednesday, with snow possible at elevations above 5,500 feet. There is a lesser chance of rain Thursday and Friday.

    After 35 hikers were rescued from the county’s backcountry on Monday, Capt. Dave Kenney of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Air Unit said people need to realize the dangers of heading into the mountains during any storm.

    “”What seems like a relatively low-flowing creekbed can literally turn into a raging river in a matter of minutes,”” Kenney said. “”It just takes one thunder shower, and it may not even be where you’re at.””

    The Air Unit and volunteer search teams rescued 19 hikers on a Sierra Club outing, plus five other hiking groups with a total of 16 people, Kenney said. And two Boy Scout troops, including one from Camarillo, had to be airlifted from the Santa Barbara County portion of the Los Padres National Forest.

    Authorities began searching Sunday evening for the Sierra Club hikers after the Sheriff’s Department received reports that they had not returned as planned from an overnight trip.

    Late Sunday, searchers noticed lights on a ridge and later rescued four people from the hiking club who had tried to trek over the mountain to Highway 33 and ended up near a cliff, Kenney said. The rescue effort lasted until about 2 a.m.

    Volunteer sheriff’s rescue teams had to hike in, set up rope systems and use harnesses and tethers to pull the stranded hikers across swollen streams and a waterfall, Kenney said.

    The team set up a 200-foot rope system to protect the hikers as they traversed a steep rock face, then helped them rappel down 300 feet in the dark, said Teresa Norris, one of the rescued hikers. Norris said she was impressed with the professionalism of the rescue volunteers.

    The hikers had symptoms of hypothermia, and all four were taken to a hospital, Kenney said. A search team member suffered a sprained ankle.

    Early Monday, the Air Unit found the rest of the Sierra Club hikers and flew them out to safety, Kenney said. No injuries were reported among them.

    The Sierra Club hikers, ages 30 to 62, hiked into the national forest Saturday. They were on their first backpacking trip as part of a wilderness course sponsored by the Los Padres Sierra Club, said Norris, who chairs the course.

    Norris, 56, of Fillmore said group members checked the weather and decided to go ahead with the trip after reading that the brunt of the storm wasn’t expected until late Sunday.

    “”We checked this every day and thought we would be OK with the weather … Then the storm arrived one day early,”” Norris said. She said she plans to be “”more sophisticated”” about checking the weather in the future.

    The Scouts were airlifted from a camp north of Santa Barbara after they were stranded by a swollen river, said Drew Sugars, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. The groups had hiked into the area Saturday and planned to leave Sunday but could not get out due to the river, Sugars said. No one was injured.

    On Sunday, Ventura city firefighters and swift-water teams rescued 20 people and four dogs stranded by rising waters on an island in the middle of the Ventura River bed betweenCrooked Palm Road and the ocean about 4:25 p.m., officials said. No injuries were reported.

    Four people were also rescued by Ventura County firefighters and sheriff’s deputies from a creekbed off Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks after water swamped their vehicle while they were off-roading.

    With 4.91 inches of rain, Sunday was the wettest March day on record at the Camarillo Airport and the second soggiest day ever at that location, according to the Weather Service. The previous record was 4.6 inches on March 8, 1968Oxnard had 4.21 inches Sunday, shattering the previous record for March 20.

    Rainfall totals included more than 6 inches in Ojai, nearly 5.5 inches in Santa Paula, almost 4 inches at the Ventura Government Center, 3.76 inches in Thousand Oaks and 3.37 inches in Moorpark, according to the Ventura County Watershed Protection District.

    Winds reached 74 mph Sunday morning in Rose Valley, according to the Weather Service.

    Two sewage spills were reported Sunday. About 10,000 gallons of waste water from the Hill Canyon Treatment Plant spilled into the south fork of Arroyo Conejo Creek when filters were overwhelmed by excess storm water, and 375 gallons of sewage discharged from a manhole at 735 Country Valley Road in Thousand Oaks, according to the Ventura County Environmental Health Division.

    County officials are advising people to avoid contact with storm runoff and ocean water for 72 hours after the rain ends, because it can carry disease-causing bacteria.

    Power outages affected more than 15,000 Southern California Edison customers around the county Sunday, and several hundred in the east county remained without electricity Monday.

    Patricia Bartoli-Wible, a spokeswoman for Edison, said the utility’s goal is to fix all outages within 24 hours. “”We’ve ramped up on our crews,”” she said. “”They’re responding as quickly as possible.””

    Two trees fell into homes along Michael Drive in Newbury ParkDaniel and Debi Welsh were watching the NCAA playoffs around noon Sunday when a street tree, a Chinese elm, fell on their house.

    “”My daughter had just said, ‘Mom, the tree isn’t going to fall over, is it?’ “” Debi Welsh said. “”And I said, ‘Oh no, honey, it’s fine. It’s not moving at the base.’ “”

    But then their neighbor waved at them and told them to move away from the windows.

    “”Nothing crashed or crumbled,”” Welsh said. “”I was very surprised it didn’t come tumbling through the roof. It toppled slowly, then kind of lay down on the roof.””

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