Reflecting on last year's mudslides

Big storm hit October 15, 2015
Posted at 5:17 PM, Oct 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-14 20:20:45-04

It was a year ago that Kern County was pummeled with rainfall. Flash floods struck Kern County and mudslides developed along Highway 58 and Interstate 5. According to Caltrans, 3.49 inches of rain hit Tehachapi in just 30 minutes. 

Laurie Hamilton is a longtime Bear Valley Springs resident and cannot believe the big storm hit a year ago.

"It seems like it just happened," said Hamilton.

Hamilton's husband volunteers his time for Search and Rescue and saw the damage first hand. She's happy everyone survived. 

In a statement, Caltrans (District 9) said this about what they learned from last year:

"On October 15, 2015 a 1 in 1,000 year flash flood event occurred along Interstate 5 and State Route 58 in Kern County.  On this afternoon and evening, a high intensity rainfall event struck the Fort Tejon and Tehachapi areas causing severe flash flooding. The flash flooding sent water, mud, rocks and other debris across both highways stranding hundreds of vehicles and causing serious roadway damage. Roadway Emergency Opening activities completed by both Caltrans maintenance crews and emergency contracts include: removal and disposal of over 80,000 cubic yards of debris, road and slope stabilization repairs, erosion control, drainage system repair and traffic control.  State Route 58 reopened to the traveling public on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 after a 6 day closure.

Immediately after this event, Caltrans put in place a $2.5 million emergency contract to repair damage to the highway caused by this flash flood event.  The contract included clearing thousands of cubic yards of flood debris, clearing plugged culverts, restoring adjacent slopes, establishing water flow lines, and constructing two massive containment dikes.  This work has been ongoing for the past year.

The flash flood that occurred on October 15, 2015 was a 1,000 year flood event wherein 3.49 inches of rain came down in approximately 30 minutes.  This event clearly shows the need for permanent funding to improve our transportation infrastructure, and despite Caltrans best efforts, we’re seeing storms and conditions that are out of the ordinary and difficult to prepare for."