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River of mud evacuates homes, traps cars

Now the clean-up begins after an overnight downpour triggered flash flooding and mudslides in the town of Gilman Hot Spring, south of Beaumont just east of Highway 79.

The water and mud trapped people in their cars and homes. County Public Works crews were very busy Thursday trying to clear the mud, 5 feet of it in some places.

There are no injuries reported, just a big clean-up ahead.

“Not too much scares me but that scared me,” said Sam Way, property manager and resident of homes evacuated.

It was the middle of the night when the hillside threatened to give way.

“You could hear the water flowing then you could hear the bowling ball affect of the rocks rolling and that was probably about 4 o’clock when it really broke lose on us,” said Way.

All 8 people who live in the 7 apartment homes at the base of the hillside were quickly evacuated. Once the storm ended a few hours later, their homes still stood, but surrounded by mud.

“It’s a freaking thing to witness,” said Sam. “You never think its going to happen where you are at and it did.”

What was once a smooth driveway is now covered in boulders and mud, at some spots, waist deep.

“Just a lot of clean up, just a lot of mud and rock to clean up,” said Way.

The river of debris trapped two cars missing the apartment home by about three feet.

“I’m sure a car is a lot easier to replace than a house, I don’t know it could have went either way,” said Way.

Despite all of this mess, none of the mud made it inside any of these homes or hurt anybody.

“It’s amazing you thank God for it because it could have went a lot worse. We could have had people stuck in it and not being able to get them out or somebody out looking to see what it is and this happens and we are looking for them too,” said Way.

The same is true further along the hillside. Five cars carrying 14 people were trapped on Gilman Springs Road when the river of mud flowed through. Everyone was rescued without injuries and most of the cars cleared by early afternoon.

“We are really thankful actually, we all still have a place to live and we are all still walking,” said Way.

There is now just a big mess to clean up, one that will take a long time. All of this mud will have to dry out before they really can begin to start digging out.

Way told us the hillside is still unstable, any more rain, could bring it down again.

KESQ News Team

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