Mudslide Demolishes N. Calif. Homes
ANNE M. PETERSON
Mar. 10, 2000
MILLBRAE, Calif. (AP) _ A wall of mud descended today on five pricey but now-abandoned houses, caving in walls and pushing them off their foundations.
City officials broke the windows of one home Thursday to prevent broken glass from spraying out as mud shoved against the back walls, making them buckle.
An almost nonstop string of rainy winter storms in the San Francisco area caused the hill to begin sliding about two weeks ago. The sun popped out today and there was no rain in the forecast through the weekend.
Five 1950s-era homes at the bottom of the steep hillside in Millbrae, 13 miles south of San Francisco, have been evacuated since Tuesday, when mud began pouring in and city officials ordered residents out. Some of the homes are worth as much as $500,000.
``The mud is slowly pushing those houses off their foundations,'' City Clerk Cheryl Mitchell Wade said.
Earlier in the week, Maria Delgado stood with her father, Salvador, on the deck of their home, surveying the mud and debris engulfing their backyard. On Wednesday, the family packed their furniture into a rented van.
``They say it could be months before we can return,'' Maria Delgado said. ``Maybe never.''
After consulting with geologists, the city told residents Tuesday it would be best if they left. That night, the hill started to give way, mud pouring into yards.
Millbrae officials extended a state of emergency for the area and authorized spending an additional $50,000 for temporary repairs. The city already has spent about $50,000.
The families in the five homes were given vouchers to pay for hotels until they find other accommodations.
``The families at the bottom of the hill have been really brave,'' said Ralph Petty, Millbrae's director of community development. ``When we said there's a danger here, they packed up.''
The recent rain has made shoring up the hill impossible. City officials have tried to divert the water, and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has removed power poles and shut off the gas.
In nearby Daly City, six miles south of San Francisco, a crumbling cliff over the Pacific Ocean is threatening 18 homes. Many residents have left as the earth beneath the houses collapses into the sea.
One the Net: City of Millbrae's Web site: http://www.abag.ca.gov/abag/local_gov/city/1web/millbrae.html