Homeowners in Alpine's Fire-Scarred Areas Prepare for Rain

Residents in East County are preparing for the first rain to hit the region since the West Fire burned through parts of Alpine over the summer, leaving dozens of homes destroyed or damaged.

San Diego County is expecting to see more scattered showers and thunderstorms in the North County and East County mountains on Wednesday.

Barriers made of straw called “straw wattles” can be seen in yards and hillsides throughout the community to protect against flooding.

“When it comes down, it really comes down hard and fast and that straw wattle is really going to help keep the erosion down,” says Jeff Thomas.

Thomas is one of the remaining residents in the area affected by the West Fire. Thirty-four homes were destroyed when the devastating vegetation fire tore through the foothill community of Alpine on July 5.

While Thomas lives on the top of a hill, he worries about his neighbors below.

“Up in Malibu and everything after the fires and everything they had the really bad mudslides,” he said.

Though no flash flood watches or warning were scheduled for Wednesday, rain has the potential to bring mudslides in areas scarred by wildfires, according to the National Weather Service. 

“Since there's no root base holding everything in place - so if we do get those flash floods it's going to move the earth and take it sliding right down the slopes,” he said.

The county has provided the “straw wattles” for free to people who have property in the burn area. They just have to pick them up.

At the Alpine Fire Protection Station, free sandbags are available for pickup; the limit is 10 per family.

At nearby Alpine Landscape Materials, Alpine residents can fill up to ten sandbags for free or buy prefilled bags for $2. Straw wattles are also for sale. 

Residents wishing to fill their sandbags at Apline Landscape should first check in with the office. 

Jason McBroom, Fire Marshal with the Alpine Fire District says the big worry is out in the areas where fire has left the ground bare.

People visiting the local hardware store tell NBC7 they would like to see a little rain, but not the type of rain that will do damage to people starting to rebuild.

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