January 21, 1969
When the big rains came photographers fanned out to the low spots to find photos. In 1969 anywhere near a stream had flood potential. Reporter/Photographer Michael Raphael covered the flooding in Avila Beach that drove 30 families from their homes. In San Luis Obispo 2.46 inches fell, less than the previous days but still a sizable rainfall. Monday’s preliminary damage estimated was doubled now standing at a million dollars.
Some stories from the epic Sunday were still being discovered.
Dixon Conrad, the county civil defense director, was wallpapering with his wife when the big rains triggered a mudslide uphill from his house on Flora St.
Quoting from the story:
A river of water gushed down the hill against his garage door. Inside the garage, he punched holes in a door to relive pressure from outside. Too late. The other garage door gave way.
Conrad was between two cars. Both rose to the ceiling beam and he feared he would be crushed. He rose in the tide too — pushed the cars apart, leaped on one’s hood, and was swept through a door into the family room toward ominous glass doors.
“Grab me,” he yelled to his son on side stairs. The son did, his wife held the son, and Conrad made ashore to his living quarters. The main part of the house wasn’t damaged, but his yard, garage, family room and landscaping were.
People often underestimate the power of flowing water. The other mistake is driving by habit and not observing the conditions. The Johnson Ave. railroad underpass floods if the power or the pumps fail. Like a pitcher plant trapping insects, cars that drive into the water get stuck.
In other news, they had a chance to head off the Los Osos septic tank controversy at the end of the 1960’s.
In the end the county board of supervisors balked at doing something that might slow growth. Four Atascadero real estate representatives were the only interested parties in the audience.
Kenneth R. Jones, executive officer of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board was disappointed.
“We don’t want to handle problems,” he told the supervisors. We want to prevent problems…We’re asking that you step into this thing in advance.”
Note to Mr. Jones, most politicians rarely act before a crisis. Note to Los Osos, it has been 40 years.