A washed-out road prevented the evacuation of the KOA campground near San Bernardino, Calif., where the facility’s manager and a guest died in a flash flood on Christmas Day, the campground’s owner told the Los Angeles Times.
John Gordon, owner of the campground, told the Times that an evacuation effort was made on Christmas Day, but the road leading away from the flash-flood danger area had been washed away.
A California state official told the Times the mudslide danger around the town of Devore, where the San Bernardino KOA was located, was so extreme that “the best thing to do was evacuate.”
The state official, Tom Spittler, a senior engineering geologist with the California Geological Survey, told San Bernardino KOA Manager Janice Stout-Bradley that the 153-site campground needed to be evacuated.
Stout-Bradley, 60, died in the Christmas Day flood along with campground guest Carol Eugene Nuss, 57, of Wellington, Kan., according to Mike Gast, communications director for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).
However, Gordon told the Times, “We didn’t get any notification (to evacuate) from anybody at all, as far as I know.”
If an evacuation notice had been received, Gordon said, it would have been obeyed because he is willing to rely on the expertise of the authorities involved.
The flash-flood danger in the mountains near San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles was created by the wildfires in October and November, which burned away the vegetation that held the soil in place.
Heavy rains in Southern California shortly before Christmas caused the flooding.