Into Each Storm, Some Trees May Fall

Steve Propes
CITY-CONTRACTED WORKERS dismantle a fallen stone pine tree in the 3500 block of Canehill Avenue Jan. 20. The tree fell during storm two of a three-storm week.

Four inches. Doesn’t seem like much, unless it’s the amount of rain that falls in a relatively short period of time, like on a recent weekend, when around 3.91 inches of rain fell on a very wet Sunday at Long Beach Airport and pretty much the rest of town. All that means that the weekend ending on Jan. 20 certainly set a record for the most precipitation in the midst of a drought.
Long Beach Public Service Bureau Manager Art Cox paid attention to news reports of impending heavy rain, so a few days in advance, he asked for public works volunteers who could work during the upcoming weekend. All 14 people who volunteered came to work, in addition to an outside contractor, who sent as many as two crews. Over 20 workers in all to help dismember fallen trees, pick up palm fronds and other debris from streets, sidewalks and other places debris tends to gather. As a result of the storm, street sweeping was cancelled on Monday.
County flood control channels were immediately at risk from overflowing at midday Sunday. Cox himself was stationed at Coyote Creek near the 605 Freeway and reported the channel did not overflow. A nearby channel that bisects Heartwell Park east of Clark Avenue was not only close to the top, but roiling with waves heading south to the Pacific, where the bulk of this much needed moisture ended up.
Flooded streets and intersections amounted to another issue. According to Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo’s office, there were 80 calls for service for flooded intersections and anywhere from five to ten people rescued from stranded vehicles. There was some overflow from flood control channels. The city’s parks and recreation building was flooded, relocating 30 people. “It’s an old building,” said Mungo’s Chief of Staff Christine Schachter.
At Mungo’s Wardlow Park office, staff had to dodge felled tree limbs and flooding to reach it. Cox mentioned flooding on Atherton Street, Norwalk Boulevard and all of central Long Beach. “Everywhere in Long Beach had some degree of flooding, qualifying it as “the biggest rain event ever.”
Dramatic flooding occurred on Pacific Coast Highway below Signal Hill and Anaheim Street, with water “flooding into a liquor store” in the area, according to one observer. A portion of the 710 Freeway above Pacific Coast Highway became a flood control channel, and two teens who took to a raft had to be rescued from the L.A. River.
Another young male was video recorded on a surfboard pulled by a truck in East Long Beach. In all, it was a perfect day for those who enjoy frolicking on flooded streets.
One area that didn’t flood was near Redondo Avenue and Anaheim Street, near to where the Termino Storm Drain had been installed. “You couldn’t go north on Redondo, especially at 11th Street before the drain,” said Cox. 
Three fallen trees caused property damage, one on the west side that hit a van, another in North Long Beach and an approximately 65-year-old parkway stone pine that toppled on Friday at the 3500 block of Canehill, damaging the roof of a garage. “Fallen trees of this size are rare,” said Cox. “Each storm will have tree failures.”
In cases like this, the city accepts claims for damages, which must be filed with the city clerk. According to the city attorney’s office, which investigates these claims, “Any citizen can make a claim if they believe the city is responsible. The time limit for these claims varies. For claims over personal property damages and injuries, the time limit is generally six months. Damage to real property is a year. We have a claims unit that will apprise the homeowner of the filing dates.”
According to the city attorney website (, in the third quarter of 2016, the city approved six tree claims for $35,785.03, including one claim for $28,807. In the second quarter, the city paid $3,456.62 for six tree claims.
Cox added, “A lot of tree inspections happen in the recovery period. Eventually, a new tree will be planted.” In the case of the Canehill tree, “The lower portion of the tree needed to be removed and the pulled up curb and gutter need to be replaced.” If the homeowner chooses to replace the tree, “There’s an approved tree species list. We want the right tree in the right place according to parkway size. There’s no fee for the permit, and if the desired tree is not on the list, we make appropriate suggestions.”
The flooding near the river and the flood control channels did not surprise Cox. “The channels were put there for a reason. Those are areas that have always tended to get a lot of rain in storms like these.”



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