Storms roll through Canyon Lake


Photo by Dana Buckley

Like the rest of Southern California, Canyon Lake was impacted in varying degrees by the late winter storms that swept through the area over the last two weeks. On a positive note, the lake is full, the dam is overflowing and the hillsides are green.

The rain and wind brought a few headaches for many homeowners whose roofs leaked and yards flooded. Some residents took advantage of the free sandbags at Fire Station 60 to help channel rushing water away from their homes.

Many lakefront properties were flooded, leaving some homeowners wondering why EVMWD didn’t open the floodgate. While some dams do have floodgates, the Canyon Lake dam is not one of them. At the base of the dam are 48-inch gate valves. The dam valves are not operated with the intent to regulate the reservoir level, it’s used as a function of the maintenance program.

Lake levels rose so high that Lions Park, Indian Beach and a portion of Diamond Point Park were underwater. Portions of the parking lots at Sierra Park and Indian Beach also were under water.

There were a few kayaks and paddleboards found floating in the lake, swept away from flooded lakefront homes.Postings on Facebook indicated that several docks were damaged.

Residents, especially those who live on the north side, were inconvenienced when the north and main causeways closed due to flooding.

Downed tree branches and littered streets, parks, common areas and the golf course kept the POA’s Operations crew busy.

The storms and frigid temperatures prompted the National Weather Service to issue flash flood warnings and a frost advisory. County officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for selected areas near the recent Holy fire burn area.

The runoff brought with it contamination from surrounding watershed; hence, the requisite warning signs posted at parks after every heavy rain event until testing proves bacteria levels are safe enough for human contact.

Thanks to the new Goetz Rd. bridge over Salt Creek, the culvert under the bridge handled the heavy runoff from Salt Creek without incident. It was 40 years ago this month that a young man, John Landrum drowned when Goetz Rd. was washed out at Salt Creek and his four-wheel drive Blazer was swept  into the lake.

Randy Lord, then a 25-year-old resident, drove in the lake and saved Lisa Loper, a passenger in the trapped Blazer, and dragged her to safety at the dock. Randy was hailed as a hero for his daring rescue.

The recent storms are a reminder to residents to be prepared for future storms. Both the City of Canyon Lake and the POA have notification systems in place. Only those residents who sign up for this service will be notified.

The City of Canyon Lake has an emergency notification system called CodeRED, which will alert each resident by phone or email in the event of an emergency.

The ultra high-speed telephone communication service allows the city to telephone all or targeted areas in case of an emergency, such as drinking water contamination, utility outage, evacuation notice, missing person, road closures, fires, floods, law enforcement activities that may impact the city, chemical spills and gas leaks where rapid and accurate notification is essential for public safety.

The system is capable of dialing a high volume of phones per hour and delivering a recorded message to a person or an answering machine. The system is ideal for residents who may not be watching television or listening to the radio when an emergency message is issued. The system also can call cell phones and send emails.

Since the initiation of the system, many Canyon Lake residents have changed their phone numbers or gone strictly to cell phones. The city wants to make sure that everyone is in the database and will be contacted in the case of an emergency.

City officials urge residents to take a few minutes and sign up for the service online on the city’s website at Once on the city’s website, click on “Services” then “Disaster Preparedness.” The short online form asks for information about alternate phone numbers, email addresses and cell phone numbers.

Although residents can opt to not receive emergency notifications, city officials recommend that everyone participate. Those who previously have signed up and haven’t made changes to their contact information do not need to sign up again.

Residents who wish to receive POA news and notifications via email and mobile device should sign up at Alert examples may include road closures, lake conditions, project updates, amenity announcements and other business and community notifications.

Residents who experience power outages during a storm should call the Southern California Edison (SCE) 24-hour emergency hotline at 800-611-1911 to report the outage. It is the primary way for SCE to know there is a problem so crews can be deployed. Residents who experience outages can check the “Outage Center” at to learn what time they can expect power to be restored.

Free sand and sandbags are still available at Fire Station 60 on Vacation. Dr.

Photo by Mavis Schutz

Photo by Bruce Busser


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Donna Ritchie