Nightly News   |  February 06, 2010

L.A. mudslides overpower barriers, smash homes

At least seven houses were destroyed, and dozens more flooded with mud and debris after an intense winter storm brought down vulnerable hillsides. NBC’s Chris Jansing reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> mentioned in the west. the fierce rain and now the danger from too much mud. with the latest here's nbc's chris jansing .

>> reporter: residents say it seemed to happen in an sfant. a mile-long torrent of mud, rocks, and trees came barreling down a collapsing hillside in suburban los angeles overnight, trapping people in their homes.

>> it was just gushing water. you couldn't get out.

>> reporter: mud slides hit with such force they overpowered barriers constructed to stop them. at least seven houses were destroyed, dozens more flooded with mud and debris, after intense thunderstorms.

>> it was an absolute torrent down here. cars rolling down the street at 5:00 in the morning. the whole house was shaking.

>> reporter: crews worked to clear blocked roads and allow first responders to come in, and residents of 500 evacuated homes to get out. this fire truck was stuck in rushing water for almost an hour. the hardest-hit areas had been charred by september's devastating station fire , leaving the hillsides vulnerable to mud slides.

>> the problem is for these burn areas it only takes half an inch of rain in an hour to cause possibility of a mud slide. we've had about a total of four to five inches in some spots in the mountains.

>> reporter: and the worst may be yet to come. more rain is expected tonight. flash flood warnings are in effect. and forecasters are predicting another storm system will move in tuesday night and wednesday. so weary residents spent hours today cleaning up from one onslaught by mother nature and preparing for the next. chris jansing , nbc news, los angeles .