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Team Rubicon Launches 'Operation: Backbone' To Clean Up Mt. Baldy After Deadly Mudslides

LOS ANGELES ( — Nearly a week after deadly mudslides, the clean up work in Mt. Baldy is not even close to being done, officials said Saturday.

That's why a group of military veterans and first responders -- El Segundo-based Team Rubicon -- is lending a helping hand with the back-breaking work.

KCAL9's Jeff Nguyen reports on the relief efforts and how the military vets are pitching in.

Even at dusk, Gloria Flickinger was scraping caked mud from her garage in Mt. Baldy.

"This mud is really hard to get off," said Flickinger. She showed Nguyen how mud made a complete mess of her property.

Team Rubicon to the rescue. Twenty team members helped out residents Saturday. More than 50 are expected on Sunday.

Jonathan Tan helped to carry a water pipe up a steep hill that isn't accessible by cars or trucks.

"My job today was to help reconnect that water line which I was told supplies about 20 families," said Tan.

Team Rubicon helped out with Sandy relief efforts. (credit: CBS)
(credit: CBS)

"This mean a lot to us because if no one did it we'd be doing this for months," said resident Blake Hendrickson.

Team Rubicon is a non-profit agency that takes military veterans and applies their skills in the recovery process after disasters.

"Coming from the military, people have been in places like Iraq and Afghanistan," said team member Jason Keller.

Nguyen reported that the team finds similarities in the work they do here and abroad. They excel in dealing with failing infrastructures -- be they from natural disasters or war zones.

The group is known for helping with damage assessment, volunteer management and field leadership support. In addition, they are good for mobilizing help, debris management and clean up operations. Team Rubicon was founded in 2010, in the wake of the devastating quake that struck Haiti. Since that time, more than 17,000 members have helped in such disasters as Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the killer typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013.

Team Rubicon operates solely through private donations. In fact, donated airline miles are used to purchase plane tickets to get members to their assignments.

No matter how help arrives, residents say they've been touched by the kindness of strangers.

"Just giving their day and volunteering and getting blisters and digging and the whole nine yards," said resident Jill Malarkey, "I don't have words to describe. It's just been amazing."

For more on Team Rubicon, click here.

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