Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dramatic Kodacolor Snapshots From the Height of the Baldwin Hills Flood

Taken from the second floor of an apartment in Building 70 (Court 14), this dramatic photograph shows
the flood waters ripping through the Village, just after the water had begun to subside. Note the water line
on the brick bungalow at the right.

Steve Brink, who grew up in Baldwin Hills Village, has been kind enough to share his story and some very rare and dramatic photographs in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Baldwin Hills Flood and Dam Break. Taken by his uncle who was trapped in the upper floor of his apartment in the Village, it shows the flood-waters roaring through the Village Green at the height of the devastation. One particularly thrilling image shows a helicopter as it tries to land on the roof of a building across the Green, attempting to rescue some Villagers who had been trapped in Court 8. This event was documented in a previous post here by long-time Baldwin Hills Village resident Helen Spears:

Steve Brink, right, with his father and brother, Baldwin Hills Village, ca. 1965.

Here is Steve Brink's story:

"We lived in the Village from just before I was born, possibly 1959, I was born in June 1960. We first lived at 5207 ½, I remember falling down the hardwood stairs once. When I was 3 and prior to the flood, we moved to the studio apartment at 5431 in Court 13. My brother was born October 1963. The Village was a great place for kids in those days. There were three playgrounds and the parents didn't have to worry since we could just go into the greens and plenty of sidewalks to roller skate and bicycle. I went to Baldwin Hills Elementary for Kindergarten, B1, and A1 before moving to Arcadia. We moved away in September, 1967, and had our last dinner at Hody's, which was formerly at the northwest corner of La Brea and Rodeo.

Floating cars in Garage Court 14

On the day of the flood, my dad was coming home and mentioned to my mom that there was a lot of water at La Brea and Rodeo. My mom said either police or fire said there was a crack in the reservoir but they don't expect it to break. My mom told my dad that since it was an earthen dam, they better evacuate. They packed up a few things and took both cars to my grandparents' house in Westwood. My mom said that she put our pet canary upstairs ‘to give him a better chance.’ My uncle (who also lived in VG, in Court 14) must have been the one who took the photos, probably using an old Kodak 126 instamatic.

Building 68 in Court 13 engulfed by flood waters.

My parents had to prove that they were residents to see the damage later that day or the next day. I am not sure when we were able to come back home, but when we did my tricycle was still in our back porch. I clearly remember the aftermath and the rebuilding, especially on the Coliseum Street side.

My mom, dad and aunt are no longer alive, but it was an event they all talked about from time to time. My aunt's old dining room table had water stains about three inches up the legs from the flood water. It was a conversation piece for years."

Fences destroyed by the strong currents and floating debris.

Garage Court 14 inundated, the garage structures nearly destroyed.

A helicopter maneuvers to land on the roof of a building in Court 8, attempting to rescue
some Villagers who didn't evacuate.

Garage Court 14, looking at Building 73.

No comments:

Post a Comment