Framework

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Trucks navigate a flooded Compton street.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

A man on stilts finds a way to avoid getting his feet wet.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

A rain-flooded street in Compton in February 1927.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

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Storm waters flood Compton in 1927

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Storm waters flood Compton in 1927

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Storm waters flood Compton in 1927

A huge storm that swamped Southern California in February 1927 left Compton flooded, suddenly turning the main streets of the city into rivers.

It wasn’t that it rained anymore in Compton than elsewhere. Rather, the problem stemmed from overwhelmed drainage channels, swollen with rain from Los Angeles and other points at higher elevations, that inadvertently discharged floodwaters into the main business section of Compton.

“The drainage channel known as Compton Creek is not capable of carrying the large volume of water poured into it from the City of Los Angeles storm drains which terminate at One Hundred and Eighth and South Main streets,” the Los Angeles Times reported on Feb. 20, 1927.

Some 6.5 inches of rain fell in the storm, much of it collected by two large water conduits in Los Angeles that discharged their water into Compton Creek channel. Soon after that point, The Times reported, the problems began:

“At a short distance from the point of discharge, the ditch takes a right-angle turn, too abrupt for this great volume of water to follow. Consequently, the water cuts new channels straight ahead, and flows on down through Watts, Willowbrook, Lynwood, county territory, and through the principal streets of Compton into the Los Angeles River channel.”

The Times story concluded by saying that Compton officials had demanded that Los Angeles city and county officials work on a “feasible and business-like plan to control the flow of storm waters.”

 

 

1 Comment

  1. January 28, 2016, 10:16 am

    This type of flooding is why the LA River is concrete lined and runs from the mountains to the sea. Once you channelize a river drainage you cannot stop arbitrarily; that is what these pictures show. LA simply diverted the flooding onto lower lying areas (Compton).

    As the LA Basin developed with houses and roads the ability to direct flood waters to the ocean became more limited. Had the Army Corps of Engineers created wider easements in the 1940’s for what is now the “LA River” it would be able to accept the “greening” activity that folks desire today. The LA River channel is so narrow for an anticipated major flood event that it must be concrete lined (durable, low friction) to pass the flood water quickly to the ocean.

    If folks would have shown some foresight back in the post-War period the fluvial dynamics would have allowed a greener “river”. See “The Flood Control Controversy” by Luna Leopold, 1954 (It’s downloadable).

    By: the Ghost of Luna Leopold

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