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Community responds to flood

Assistance, sympathy offered to families in need

donations of money and clothing or furnishings are sought.

January 06, 2011|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com

Eighteen families were known by Tuesday to have been displaced and 31 structures damaged by the flood and debris flows that terrorized Laguna residents on Dec. 22.

For those families and the others less dramatically affected, the aftermath may be almost as daunting as the disaster. But the community, city government and the Laguna Relief and Resource Coalition are responding with compassion and the skills learned the hard way in past disasters.

"The community, as always, has come forward," Ann Quilter said Tuesday at the City Council meeting.

Quilter reported that offers of assistance came from Mission Hospital, the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, Waste Management of Orange County, every church and organization in town.

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"What works is an e-blast to friends. [Councilwoman Pearson] Elizabeth's e-blast resulted in a $10,000 donation from Holly and David Wilson," Quilter said.

Quilter, who lost her home and almost her life in the 1998 mudslides in Laguna Canyon, has been named volunteer disaster relief coordinator for the coalition.

She said the love and support she received from the community in 1998 helped heal her and she feels privileged to give back to the community a measure of what she received.

"It helps to have someone who understands how people are feeling," Mayor Toni Iseman said.

As of Tuesday, the coalition was dealing with 53 active cases. Based on past experience, Quilter said the coalition will be training people so every case will have a personal representative.

"There are all kinds of ways to give — money, skills and sweat," Iseman said.

Coalition Executive Director Donna Valenti announced that among the most pressing needs is storage for items salvaged from or donated to homes that cannot yet be inhabited.

"We need household goods, clothing and furniture," Valenti said. "If you have donations, please let us know."

However, the primary focus is on the people in need.

The coalition food bank is open from 7:30 to 10 a.m., but Valenti is there from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. and she will work with the victims.

A Flood Relief Fund has been established. Donations may be made by calling Valenti or by check, made out to the Laguna Beach Relief and Resource Coalition, memoed 2010 flood, and mailed to P.O. BOX 4481, Laguna Beach, CA 92652.

Clothing donations can be made at the Assistance League Turnabout Thrift Store, 526 Glenneyre St.

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