Monday, January 2, 2012

Tuesday, January 2, 1934

I rode to school this a.m. on the street car. Had a lot of lessons this evening. Walked home by myself.

New Year's Day Flood 1934/5
Aftermath of New Year's Day Flood in Los Angeles, California

The 1934 flood disaster in Los Angeles basin was so horrific that Woody Guthrie composed
 a song called “Los Angeles New Year’s Flood” to memorialize the hundred people who were
buried alive, drowned, or never found. Light rain began falling on December 30, 1933, and
 rapidly intensified to a downpour totaling 7.31 inches in 24 hours. This amount of rain qualified as
 the heaviest 24-hour rainfall yet documented (in 1934) by the local US Weather Bureau (rainfall
measurement began in 1877). By midnight on December 31, 1933, the San Gabriel Mountains,
towering above the Los Angeles basin, began to discharge massive debris flows of mud, rocks and
trees down dozens of steep narrow canyons. The debris flows reached the basin floor
 as 20-foot walls of water, burying 200 houses and rendering another 400 uninhabitable. Also
buried were around 800 mostly Model "A" cars in Montrose, La Crescenta and other foothill
communities in the narrow La Canada Valley between the San Gabriel and Verdugo Mountains.
Five people were killed at a New Year’s Eve party in a Montrose home buried by debris flow; ten
bodies were pulled from a debris flow in La Crescenta; and 25 men, women, and children were
drowned at the Red Cross headquarters at the American Legion Hall at Montrose Boulevard and
La Crescenta when a wall of water tore open the building. The destruction was so complete
 that three years after the disaster, 45 persons remained unaccounted for.

Ironically, the Los Angeles Times newspaper delivered a promotional insert on January 2, 1934,
cheerfully describing the beauty of the foothill cities where “olive-canning and berry-raising”
were the chief industries, and some of the most beautiful homes and estates in all Los Angeles were located.

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