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Los Angeles, CA Baldwin Hills Dam Collapse, Dec 1963

Baldwin Hills Dam break aerial.jpg

SIX KILLED, 60 HOUSES DESTROYED AS DAM COLLAPSES IN BALDWIN HILLS.

FEAR MORE BODIES BURIED UNDER MUD.

MANY RESCUED BY POLICE, FIREMEN WHILE FLOOD RIPS 4 SQUARE MILES.

A terrifying wall of water from a reservoir dam rushed through Baldwin Hills yesterday afternoon, leaving at least six -- possibly more -- dead, 60 homes destroyed and another 100 homes flooded. Except for a warning issued about two hours before the disaster, that the dam might break, the toll could have been many times greater.
Two bodies were found at the Fedco store, at the intersection of Rodeo Road and La Clenega Blvd., just below the dam.
Another body was taken from a car mired in a drainage ditch. It also was reported a man died of a heart attack while trying to drive in the flooded streets.
Last night the coroner was sent to Dorsey High School, an evacuation center, giving rise to the possibility of another death.
At 8 p.m. police said the death toll was six.
But the worst still may not be known for the main danger area was considered the Village Green section, south of La Brea. Village Green is a heavily populated apartment area and was hard hit by the raging waters.
There was no count on the injured but it is known that 1500 to 2000 people lived in the area hit by the flood.
The dam itself is located southwest of Rodeo Road and La Brea Ave.
Even with the advance warning, a virtual armada of helicopters was pressed into service to whisk residents off rooftops to safety.
And in the darkness last night fire trucks continued to ramble out of the disaster area loaded with refugees.
The wave of water lasted about 90 minutes, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. It left a four-square-mile area of wreckage and mud.
Trees and automobiles were swept from the path of the onrushing waves.
Fifteen minutes after the break the water in the dam had receded only 25 feet.
Homes in the path of the roaring water on Cloverdale St., worth $30,000 and up, were destroyed.
A gap of 75 feet opened in the dam 10 minutes after the initial break.
Witnesses said autos, trees, and signs were swept down La Cienega Blvd. The water was surging west and east on Rodeo Road.
Many people who did not heed emergency warnings were said to be trapped in automobiles that were swept blocks down the street by the angry flood.

Continued



article | by Dr. Radut