The Great Inland Empire Floods Of 1969
We need to go back a year to see how the floods of 1968 were enhanced by events. In December of 1968, we experienced a major freeze and snowfall. It was 25 degrees over a period of about two weeks previous to Christmas. Temps in the Mountains were down into the low teens and Mt Baldy even reported -10 degrees several nights.
This freeze and snow contributed to a massive kill off of thousands of lemon and orange trees in Upland and Alta Loma. The fruit dropped to the ground and was never picked up because the groves, or least most of them had already been sold off to developers. As a result, thousands of pounds of fruit and tree limbs and trees were added to the mix when the heavy rains came.
In Late January, we received our first tastes of what was to come. Nearly 5 inches of rain fell across the IE in a little over 2 hours.
Then in February, the first wave of the Pineapple Express arrived dropping over 20 inches of rain on a soaked valley.
The Weather people issued small stream advisories for the foothill communities but nothing really occurred.
Then, March arrived bringing in torrential Monsoon rains from Hawaii. The snow level was 8,000 feet so what fell in the mountains was all rain.
Over 80 inches of rain fell in the upper foothill communities of the IE.
The Cucamonga Creek swelled to over 2 miles wide when all of the earthen dams in the foothills collapsed under the debris load.
Dozens of homes were lost or damaged on Carnelian and Vineyard. The Thomas Bros Winery suffered heavy damaged when flood waters pushed all of the giant wine barrels out though the front of the building onto Foothill. At the Same time the Capri Ki and the bowling alley across the street were destroyed by four feet of mud, lemons and trees crashed into the back wall.
Down on Arrow Highway, several homes were heavily damaged by the floods as there walls and windows were pushed out by the water.
On Euclid, the waters were flowing 4 feet deep carrying tons of rotten fruit, tree limbs and cars, houses and people down to the 10 freeway.
The 10 freeway was stopped as a torrent of water crashed over the top of the freeway damaging several cars and trucks.
Meanwhile in the eastern end of the IE, the Santa Ana River was in full flood stage. In some area it was 15 feet deep and 4 miles wide.
All of this flowed towards the Prado Damn in Chino. For the first time in its history the Prado Damn spillway had 4 feet of water overflowing the dikes.
The Santa Ana River was flowing at full flood stage through the canyon, but back then there were not any homes or businesses in the area and the lower sections had been concreted several years before.
By the storms end over $500 million in damage had been caused, 60 people were killed and hundreds of homes had been damaged or destroyed.