Heavy rain leads to landslides in Southern California - HISTORY
Year
1969

Heavy rain leads to landslides in Southern California

On this day in 1969, a spate of heavy rain begins in Southern California that results in a tragic series of landslides and floods that kills nearly 100 people. This was the worst weather-related disaster in California in the 20th century.

Although January typically features relatively high precipitation in Southern California, the first month of 1969 saw an extraordinary amount of rain throughout the region. Mt. Baldy, east of Los Angeles, received more than 50 inches in the nine-day period beginning January 18. By January 26, the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) had declared it a federal disaster area.

The worst part of the remarkable rainfall was that it caused a series of landslides in the hills of Southern California. In Glendora, 1 million cubic meters of rock and mud slid down a hillside, destroying 200 homes and killing dozens of people. Although there was only one fatality, the plight of Mandeville Canyon, north of Sunset Boulevard in L.A.’s Brentwood section, during the disaster was heavily publicized due to the wealth and fame of its residents.

Mandeville Canyon Road became a flowing river and was impassable for a week. Waves of water three feet high ran through homes, sweeping residents’ possessions, including furniture and pianos, away. Film director Robert Altman was trapped in his home for more than a day. Many others had to be evacuated. Michael Riordan, the brother of future Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, was the only person to die in the area. He was killed in his bedroom, as firefighters tried to rescue him. Eventually, the National Guard was brought in assist in the relief efforts.

Overall, 91 people died in the flooding and mudslides. It was the worst storm to hit Southern California since 1938. In February, yet another big storm hit killed 18 people over several days. From 1980 to 2005, approximately 100 people died from floods and landslides in Southern California.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

“Mandy” is Barry Manilow’s first #1 pop hit

Barry Manilow’s scores his first #1 single with “Mandy” on January 18, 1975. He would go on to sell more than 75 millions records over the course of his career.At the height of Barry Manilow’s popularity, none other than Frank Sinatra himself said of Manilow, “He’s next.” Yet ...read more

Scott reaches the South Pole

After a two-month ordeal, the expedition of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott arrives at the South Pole only to find that Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, had preceded them by just over a month. Disappointed, the exhausted explorers prepared for a long and difficult ...read more

Cook discovers Hawaii

On January 18, 1778, the English explorer Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands when he sails past the island of Oahu. Two days later, he landed at Waimea on the island of Kauai and named the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of ...read more

GM auctions off historic cars

January 18, 2009, marks the final day of a weeklong auction in which auto giant General Motors (GM) sells off historic cars from its Heritage Collection. GM sold around 200 vehicles at the Scottsdale, Arizona, auction, including a 1996 Buick Blackhawk concept car for $522,500, a ...read more

McGovern begins his presidential campaign

In a televised speech, Senator George S. McGovern (D-South Dakota) begins his antiwar campaign for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination by vowing to bring home all U.S. soldiers from Vietnam if he is elected. McGovern won his party’s nomination, but was defeated in the ...read more

NHL is integrated

On January 18, 1958, hockey player Willie O’Ree of the Boston Bruins takes to the ice for a game against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first black to play in the National Hockey League (NHL).Born in 1935 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, O’Ree was the son of a civil ...read more

Wilson attends Paris Peace Conference

On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson attends the Paris Peace Conference that would formally end World War I and lay the groundwork for the formation of the League of Nations. Wilson envisioned a future in which the international community could preempt another conflict ...read more

Jefferson requests funds for Lewis and Clark

Determined to begin the American exploration of the vast mysterious regions of the Far West, President Thomas Jefferson sends a special confidential message to Congress asking for money to fund the journey of Lewis and Clark.Jefferson had been trying to mount a western expedition ...read more

A.A. Milne is born

On this day in 1882, A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, is born.The youngest of three sons born to schoolteacher parents, Milne taught himself to read at age two. He began writing humorous pieces as a schoolboy and continued to do so at Cambridge, where he edited the ...read more

Barry arrested on drug charges

At the end of a joint sting operation by FBI agents and District of Columbia police, Mayor Marion Barry is arrested and charged with drug possession and the use of crack, a crystalline form of cocaine. At the Vista International Hotel in downtown Washington, Barry was caught ...read more

United States walks out of World Court case

For the first time since joining the World Court in 1946, the United States walks out of a case. The case that caused the dramatic walkout concerned U.S. paramilitary activities against the Nicaraguan government. For the Reagan administration, efforts to undermine the Sandinista ...read more

John Tyler dies

On this day in 1862, former U.S. President andConfederate congressman-elect John Tyler dies at age 71 in Richmond, Virginia.Tyler, whowasborn in Virginia in 1790, served asa U.S. congressman and as governor of his home state before winning election to the U.S. Senate. stateduring ...read more