Sandbagging the Lake at Seminole Springs

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Following a series of rainstorms, neighbors and volunteers sandbag the banks of the debris-filled lake owned by the Seminole Springs Mobile Home Park to deter flooding parts of the neighborhood that didn’t burn in the Woolsey fire.

Throughout the Woolsey Fire burn zone, stabilization and restoration efforts are underway. Caltrans closed lanes on Pacific Coast Highway and canyon roads to enable crews to clear debris from storm drains and install slide barriers.

At the Seminole Hot Springs Mobile Home Park, where more than a hundred residents lost their homes, the Mountains Restoration Trust (MRT) and a crew of dozens of volunteers filled and stacked sandbags to ensure that the man-made lake, already filled with fire debris, doesn’t overtop the dam and flood the part of the neighborhood that did not burn.

The lake belongs to the mobile home park; the open space adjacent to it is maintained by the MRT. The sandbagging effort brought both groups of neighbors together, with dozens of volunteers from all over the area.

Jo Powe, MRT Board president, described the restoration effort in the aftermath of the fire as a challenge equal to the massive scope of the disaster.

“We still have to figure out how to approach it,” Powe told the Messenger Mountain News, indicating that the process will have to involve numerous government agencies involved in the operation of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, as well as  non-profit organizations and stakeholders like the mobile home park residents, many of whom lost their homes in the fire.

State Senator Henry Stern was at the volunteer event to show support for the mobile home park’s residents as well as the MRT.

“I am concerned with all aspects of recovery,” Stern said.  He explained that he will be working to facilitate as many resources as possible. “No one is allowed to slip through the cracks,” he said.

The sandbags were an emergency necessity intended to prevent the debris-choked lake from overflowing. A permanent solution will involve dredging the silt and fire debris. Plans for a dredging project were already underway before the fire debris made the situation urgent.

Powe said the MRT hopes to work with the mobile home park to apply for a FEMA grant to fund the project. It’s just one of many emergency projects needed in the aftermath of the Woolsey Fire, but it is one with added urgency because of the potential risk to residents of an area already hard-hit by disaster.


Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at

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