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LA County flood-control dams at risk of overflowing after recent storms

Flood-control dams in the San Gabriel Valley Foothills at risk of overflowing
Flood-control dams in the San Gabriel Valley Foothills at risk of overflowing 02:21

The many dams that prevent flooding in Los Angeles are at risk of overflowing after recent storms unleashed record rainfall totals over the San Gabriel Valley Foothills.

"I live very close to the mountain so in the last month we got a lot of rain," said Arcadia resident Jin Yang. "I'm kind of worried."

It will cost over half a billion dollars to clear the debris building up in the damns near the Bobcat Fire burn scar. KCAL News

Sitting just above Yang's home, on the rolling hillsides of the San Gabriel Mountains, is the 96-year-old Santa Anita Dam. In the past two weeks, the recent rainfall has flooded the near-century old damn with a mixture of mud and debris that goes about eight feet deep. 

However, the Santa Anita Dam is not alone. 

After amassing millions of pounds of dirt and debris, five reservoirs along the Bobcat Fire burn scar pose a flood risk to the communities lying below — including Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sunland and Sierra Madre — especially if more severe storms strike this winter. 

"We're kind of scared of whether the mud will slide down into the yard," said Yang. "It's kinda scary."

It will take an estimated $550 million to clear the 15 million cubic yards of debris in all five reservoirs. The over half a billion dollars are expected to come from the county, state and federal governments. But, for now, L.A. county is working through grant and permit requests to get the emergency work started.

"They need to do what they need to do," said Yang. "You know you spend the money so it's safer when you live here."

Experts believe it may take three more years to clean out the debris. 

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