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March 4, 2014

Evacuation orders lifted in Calif.

LOS ANGELES — Residents in three California foothill communities headed home Sunday after a powerful storm that threatened to unleash mud on neighborhoods beneath unstable hills scarred by recent wildfires.

With the storm reduced to sprinkles, residents in the Los Angeles County cities of Glendora and Azusa were allowed back into their homes. Monrovia residents were allowed back late Saturday, officials said.

The storm — the largest since 2010 — kept emergency planners and rescue crews busy, but it didn’t produce enough rain to pull California out of a crippling drought that has grown to crisis proportions for the state’s vast farming industry.

The precipitation will bring the Los Angeles region to about half its normal rainfall for the season, Bill Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Caqada Flintridge, told the Los Angeles Times.

“This is no drought-buster, but it’s a nice, fat down payment” in the water bank, he said.

In downtown Los Angeles, the skies cleared in time for the red-carpet arrivals at the Academy Awards, but rescue teams and cleanup crews were still busy.

A swift water-rescue team plucked four hikers from rising waters in a risky overnight rescue Sunday in Malibu.

The hikers, who were trapped between a high wall and the rising waters in Malibu Creek State Park, were whisked out by helicopter uninjured but cold and exhausted. California State Parks rangers cited the four men for “unsafe recreational activities.”

In San Diego County, search and rescue teams discovered the body of a 55-year-old man whose kayak was found upside down Saturday at Lake Sutherland Dam in Ramona.

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