Leo Carrillo State Park will partially reopen this weekend after being closed for nearly a month after the flood that occurred on Thursday, Dec. 30. The overflow caused five to six inches of rain and 50 campers to evacuate that morning.
Leo Carrillo State Park officials posted an update on social media announcing the reopening of the South Beach parking lot and beach access underpass.
According to Parks and Recreation officials, campground and vehicular access to North Beach remain closed at this time.
For more information on Leo Carrillo State Park hours, directions, trails, and campsite visit parks.ca.gov.
Original story published on Jan. 6
50 rescued from intense flooding at Leo Carrillo
Campground and beach parking area are closed through January
By Judy Abel, Special to The Malibu Times
Campers and California State Parks employees were caught off-guard last Thursday when a torrent of rain overwhelmed Leo Carrillo State Park campground. 50 people were rescued early Thursday in a downpour that saw five to six inches fall in the north Malibu campground that was charred in 2018’s Woolsey Fire.
Flood advisories were issued by the National Weather Service at the end of 2021 for Orange County, but “not for Los Angeles or Ventura Counties,” said Jerry West, acting Angeles District Superintendent of California State Parks. “This event was unanticipated by all parties,” West explained.
By the time flash flood warnings were finally issued in the early morning hours, minor flooding was already occurring in the campground. With the assistance of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the American Red Cross, 50 people were evacuated from Leo Carrillo during Thursday’s storm. Roughly 70 other campers on higher ground remained at the site that was inundated with mud and debris flow into the Arroyo Sequit Creek. “Remaining campers were self-contained in their RV’s,” West said. “Because of the flooding of the campground, their egress was blocked anyway.” Those campers remaining were reported safe and secure, and no one was injured. They were unable to leave until crews were able to redivert the water and clear mud from the roadways. The last of the campers were gone by Jan. 4.
A closure order is now in effect for Leo Carrillo Campground through the end of the month.
West advised State Parks does not want the public or any lookie-loos around because “We have crews working heavy equipment. We’re still assessing the conditions.”
Most of the campsites along the base of the Arroyo Sequit are completely washed out, buried in two to three feet of “deposition or material that has been deposited” that was carried by the creek, according to West.
“Fortunately, we had the help of Cal Trans and LA County Public Works to come in with heavy equipment” to clear muck from the area. However, the Leo Carrillo south beach parking lot past the kiosk is still closed due to the mud covering its access.
“It was completely buried in sediment. The pathway that goes under Pacific Coast Highway was also buried in sediment. Plus, the road that provides access to the north beach lot, which goes over the Arroyo Sequit and underneath the bridge—currently because of tidal activity and high-water levels—it’s been submerged. Until the creek stops flowing. It’ll probably remain closed,” West said.
State Parks has asked the California Conservation Corps for help with hand work that is necessary to clear the area once some soil has dried. Campsites need to be regraded and repositioned along with picnic tables and fire rings in order for Leo Carrillo to get up and running once again.
“Once it’s safe for the public to return, we will probably open up a portion of the campground while we still continue to do the work,” West clarified. “It’s going to take a while before we can get the entire campground reopened. It’s going to be a process of not only looking at the damage that occurred but how we can manage the sites. We don’t know if they’re a complete loss yet at this point.”
Since the Woolsey Fire destroyed much of the campsite’s vegetation and cleared the area’s underbrush, it appears those conditions contributed to leveling out of the creek, causing the flooding.