California buildings at risk from falling rock
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (AP) — About two dozen people forced to leave Southern California homes threatened by an oceanfront hillside may be evacuated indefinitely.
Three clifftop homes and one neighboring building in coastal San Clemente, Orange County, were red-tagged and evacuated Wednesday as the ground began to slide from their yards down the mountainside after torrential rains.
On Thursday, residents were warned that they may not be allowed in for some time. Authorities said there is no timetable for declaring the slope stable enough for residents to return.
“I think everybody needs to understand that we have a dynamic situation here,” Mayor Chris Duncan said during a news conference. “Another downpour is coming, the ground continues to move, so these structures are still at risk.”
The National Weather Service said heavy rain could hit Southern California again early next week.
From 20 to 30 residents were evacuated. On Thursday, some were briefly allowed to return home to remove their belongings.
Orange County has been added to the presidential declaration of a state of emergency for areas severely affected by natural disasters.
About 35 of California’s 58 counties are now covered by the declaration, which authorizes federal aid to help state and local governments deal with a series of ferocious winter storms.
California suffered 11 atmospheric rivers in an almost unbroken series that caused flooding and landslides, downed trees trapped mountain dwellers in deep snow and downed power lines, leaving thousands without power.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said storm damage to the county totaled more than $4 million, and that number will continue to rise.
In the city of La Habra, news reports said a sinkhole about 30 feet (9.14 meters) deep opened Wednesday night, next to another sinkhole that opened in 2019 after heavy rain. The repair of the former pit has not yet been completed.
Some Southern California beaches were closed as heavy rain overwhelmed sewage systems and sent thousands of gallons of sewage into the sea. Ventura County closed beaches near the Santa Clara River after a collapsed sewer line released about 148,000 gallons (560,240 liters) of sewage into the waterway, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. The closure was expected to remain in place through the weekend or until testing shows bacteria levels are safe.