Jan 28

1969 Floods Day 10

1-28-1969-flood.jpgJanuary 28, 1969

Below the brand new Lopez dam flooding was unusually light. Upstream 78-year-old Heinie Nelson was fighting to survive. A preliminary report had appeared the day before but this edition had a fuller account.
Quoting from the Gilbert Moore story:

“Friday night,” said Heinie, “the first thing that went was the pump. Then trees started to fall down.”
His house is along Lopez Creek, where the canyon is narrow. The raging storm started to carry Heinie’s house away.
“I stayed in it until the last 15 minutes, just before the last room fell off. So I had to get the hell out, that’s all there was.
“That noise would drive you crazy. I could see the house going down the creek like nobody’s business – I had a little flashlight.
“I walked up the canyon wall a little ways and stayed there ‘til Saturday noon, when the water started going down. Then I broke out the window of an old car and got in there with my dog.”

For 24 hours all man and dog had to eat were the four lifesavers candies, two each. Neighbor Duane Ashton and 4 friends went up the canyon Saturday on motorcycles. They found a flood trolley and winched Nelson across the creek. He spent the night at Ashton’s cabin where he had a meal of beans. At this point 94 deaths had been reported statewide.

“You want to taste good beans, boy that guy can cook ‘em.”
Heinie, 78, hitched his suspenders and grinned some more.
“If it wasn’t for him, for all them guys, I’d be dead. Boy, when you risk your lives to save an old guy like me…”

Sunday morning they cut down a power pole allowing a Marine helicopter to land airlift Nelson and his dog out. Later at the Oceano Airport Nelson shared whiskey sipped from jelly glasses.

“Boy it tasted like a million dollars.”


Also on page one was a sad story from the war, San Luis Obispo resident  PFC. Alfred Quiroz was accidentally killed in Vietnam. The defense department reported that he was cleaning his rifle after a mission at the time of the accident. He was 20-years old.

Related posts:

  1. 1969 Floods Day 9
  2. 1969 Floods Day 1-2
  3. 1969 floods Day 6
  4. 1969 Floods Day 3
  5. 1969 Floods Day 7