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Storm wreaks havoc in Rossmoor; more rainy weather in forecast

Fallen trees and severe flooding affect manors, close golf courses

Photo by Claudia Terry Creekside’s golf course experienced flooding during Saturday’s storm.

By Craig Lazzeretti and Ann Peterson

News editors


(Updated 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 1): The New Year began in Rossmoor on Sunday with crews trying to clean up from a storm that uprooted trees, flooded streets and manors, caused landslides, shut down the golf course and resulted in leaks in manors and buildings throughout the valley.

More than 100 storm-related calls had crews and contractors working through the day and night Saturday because of persistent rain and resulting damage. To make matters worse, the forecast calls for rain again Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, followed by another major storm system starting Saturday and expected to last for a week.

A 100-year-old oak tree toppled on the 14th fairway of Dollar Ranch course.

Mary Jean Odmark had five power fans and a dehumidifier trying to dry out her Saklan Indian Drive manor on Sunday. The flooding was so significant, an outside contractor was called to vacuum out the water from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, preventing water from reaching her living room.

“I practically had a swimming pool in my office,” Odmark said. “It was really flowing in here yesterday morning. It was downright scary.”

Odmark experienced some water intrusion during the storm a couple weeks ago. Now she and many other Rossmoor residents and GRF staff are worried about the return of rainy weather this week.

Among those worried is Director of Golf Mark Heptig, who along with Golf Course Superintendent Blake Swint assessed the damage Sunday to the two golf courses. The Dollar Ranch and Creekside golf courses are expected to be closed for the foreseeable future.

While Creekside sustained severe flooding, Dollar Ranch saw damage that includes the loss of a 100-year-old oak tree that fell across the 14th fairway, landslides on the No. 3 green and No. 5 fairway and bunkers filled with water.

Heptig said the damage is “pretty sobering,” and the upcoming weather won’t help the situation.

“The problem is that it’s not over yet, and we can’t do anything about it. We’re at nature’s whim,” he said. “Areas we’ve already flagged could get much worse.”

Every corner of Rossmoor was affected Saturday during a relentless rainfall: flooding inside a Saklan Indian manor, a flooded patio on Rockledge, leaking ceilings from Wales and Running Springs to Lakeshire and Canyonwood, a leaking garage door on High Eagle, a leaking sliding door on Terra Granada, a leaking light on Oakmont, backed up drains on Golden Rain and much more. The Fitness Center also experienced leaks.

A landslide on Terra California Drive blocked part of the road Saturday.

A landslide blocks part of Terra California Drive on Saturday during the storm.

Paul and Patti Holland discovered water leaking from the ceiling above the bedroom of their Wales Drive home Saturday morning.

“Before we got the buckets out, we had about a half-inch of water,” said Paul Holland, who noted that his backyard rain gauge measured 7 inches of rain on Saturday.

Later in the day, water started dripping from the ceiling into the kitchen, rising about a quarter inch. A similar situation happened about a year and a half ago, Patti Holland said.

“If our gutters get clogged with leaves, it pushes water up into the attic,” she said. “Water was coming down from the attic and chimney above the stove.”

The attic is scheduled to be inspected later this week. Patti Holland said that a year and a half ago, crews had to put a dozen holes in the ceiling and run fans for three days. Paul Holland said he worries about mold in the attic.

“Now it’s a beautiful day, but we’re going to get a lot more rain,” Patti Holland said on Sunday. She added that the important thing was that she and her husband were OK. “It is what it is. There’s not much you can do about it.”

Cindy Sonstelie said she was lucky to have no inside damage to her High Eagle Court manor, but significant water was flowing onto the deck. She said the water was coming through the deck ceiling instead of the drainage pipe.

“It was sort of a steady stream coming from the area right next to the spout,” she said. “I could hear it all morning. I thought it was just raining, and I went out and saw the waterfall.”

Jean Moss, who lives on Terra Granada Drive, said water ran down her bedroom window “like a river” and she woke to find the water coming through the windowsill. She kept water out of the manor by soaking it up with towels.

Water flows over a bridge on the Creekside golf course on Saturday.

Moss, who moved to Rossmoor in April, said she didn’t realize she had a gutter there until she saw the water. A worker was able to clear the gutter to stop the overflow.

“It was pouring rain when he went up,” she said. “I felt so bad for him.”

The damage and unrelenting rain prompted a Nixle alert Saturday afternoon, asking residents to stay off the roads.

Because of the drought, it has been a while since Rossmoor has had to deal with storm damage of this magnitude.

And in the case of the golf course, some damage is beyond what GRF staff will be capable of handling, Heptig said.

“This damage is a little more difficult,” Heptig said. “The area up on No. 5 with those landslides is dicey. We definitely will need engineers in here to fix this up.”

(Check back for updates.)