The next chapter in the story will be rebuilding of a neighborhood — plans have already been designed for many of the displaced families — and the amount of funding the city will get from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the restoration.
The costly 2 ½-year project included building about 1,000 feet of large shoring wall and grade beam system to retain the 900,000 cubic yards of dirt that would be excavated from the canyon floor and distributed on the collapsed hillside; hauling more than 60,000 cubic yards of material off the site and finding a repository for it; restoring Flamingo Road and constructing a new storm drain serving Madison Avenue; restoration of drainage through the canyon with 600 feet of 72-inch pipes and 2,000 feet of sewer and water lines; and repairing two large Laguna Beach County Water District lines.
As a by-product of the restoration of city infrastructure to protect the welfare and safety of the community, families that lost not only their homes but their property when the hillside crashed into the canyon now have stable, sloping lots on which to rebuild, Community Recovery Coordinator Bob Burnham said. FEMA disaster funding cannot by law be spent on private development.
“Two major achievements overshadow the landslide repair,” Burnham said. “The first was the outpouring of support from the community after the [slide].
“The second was, and is, the strength and courage and resilience shown by the victims as they deal with the financial and emotional issues presented by this disaster.”
At the Dec. 15 dedication ceremonies, Councilwoman Elizabeth Schneider, who was mayor in 2005, said the displaced families should be honored for partnering with the city on the project.
“Do you know how often in disasters a city gets sued and sued over it?” Schneider said. “That didn’t happen here.”
Community support included 14 fundraisers, formation of a committee to lead the campaign for the tax increase and the voters approval of the tax, donations from people and organizations, the mobilization of the Resource and Relief Center, and the unflagging determination of the City Council and staff to complete the project.
“It had to happen,” Frank said.
For stories Nos. 2-10, click here.