December 24, 2010 in Nation/World

Californians face massive cleanups

Amy Taxin Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

John Regalado, 25, crawls out of a side window of his home inundated by mud in Highland, Calif., after grabbing a few belongings on Thursday.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Many California residents who endured flooding, mudslides and evacuations during a weeklong onslaught of rain must now clean up or even rebuild – and could face the prospect of not being able to spend Christmas at home.

The storm’s push across the West left a muddy mess Thursday across Southern California and the threat of avalanches in Nevada, where Clark County officials urged residents of Mount Charleston, near Las Vegas, to leave after snow slides near two mountain hamlets.

Preliminary damage estimates throughout California were already in the tens of millions of dollars and were expected to rise. Acting Gov. Abel Maldonado declared a state of emergency in three more counties, adding Los Angeles, Kings and Santa Barbara counties to the list of six released earlier in the week.

The inland region of Southern California east of Los Angeles was emerging as among the hardest-hit areas, especially San Bernardino County.

In Highland, people were literally chased from their homes by walls of mud and water, leaving behind dwellings strung with holiday lights. They returned Thursday to find their neighborhood inundated with mud. Five homes were destroyed and nearly 70 others damaged.

Highland officials estimated the storm caused $17.2 million damage to homes, cars and a bridge that was washed away.

As residents surveyed their homes, work crews were busy trying to reopen more than a dozen canyon and mountain roads that were closed by slides and floods. Reopening times were listed simply as “unknown” for most of them.

“There’s a lot of road damage,” San Bernardino County fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said. “The whole county received quite a bit of damage.”

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