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Major Cleanup Following Destructive NorCal Storm

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A river of mud flows down a street in Capitola, March 23, 2011. (CBS)

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CAPITOLA (CBS 5 / KCBS / AP) — Crews throughout Northern California were working Friday to reopen blocked roadways, restore power to thousands and repair damage from flooding that forced the evacuation of a Capitola mobile home park, as the region got a brief respite from stormy weather that brought heavy wind and rain.

>> CBS 5 WeatherCenter: Current Conditions, Latest Forecast, Hi-Def Doppler Radar

Residents in the 45-unit Pacific Cove Mobile Home Park were ordered to evacuate late Thursday afternoon when a failed drainage pipe tore a roughly 15-by-100 foot hole in the ground near homes and sent a 3-foot surge of water into Capitola Village, authorities said.

“The water was moving really rapidly and carrying debris, garbage cans, kids’ toys, chairs,” said Pamela Bone, 52, a resident of the mobile home park. “My neighbor and I were looking across from each other at the river running between us.”

Bone said the area around her home was left caked in mud but the home itself had remained dry.

“I think we’re the lucky ones,” she said.

Four of the homes were red-tagged, said Derek Johnson, a city spokesman, and crews were trying to restore electricity and other utilities to the area. The gas was not expected to be back on for at least another week.

Capitola is just south of Santa Cruz, where this month’s tsunami caused millions of dollars of damage to the harbor.

The flooding from the storm Thursday also affected about two dozen businesses as well as the buildings housing Capitola’s police and fire departments.

Capitola Public Works Director Steve Jesberg estimated there was several million dollars’ worth of damage to the city-owned mobile home park and $500,000 worth of damage to other city property.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

Meanwhile in the East Bay, homeowners in San Pablo were meeting with city officials to figure out how to shore up a hillside giving way beneath several homes.

Three homes above the landslide and three homes below were threatened by the collapse, said Kelsey Worthy, assistant city manager. Worthy estimated the slide was about six feet deep.

The impacted homes were located in the 5900 block of Wyman Street and 5900 block of Hillcrest Road.

The city cannot intervene directly because the slide was on private property, Worthy said. But officials would help guide homeowners through the process of contracting with structural engineers and could also seek state and federal emergency funds to pay for the work.

Rain continued to fall on Friday and was expected throughout the weekend, but National Weather Service meteorologist Austin Cross said it would not be as heavy as Thursday’s storm.

That storm caused a mud and rock slide that isolated nearly 40 miles of Pacific Coast Highway through Big Sur, shutdown Interstate 80 in the Sierra Nevada due to snow and knocked out power to thousands of people in the Bay Area and beyond.

About 4,500 Pacific Gas & Electric customers remained without power in the East Bay (the outages were concentrated largely in Newark and Fremont) on Friday due to weather-related outages, utility spokeswoman Katie Romans said.

There were also scattered outages impacting hundreds of customers in the North Bay and along the Peninsula, she added.

Those numbers were down from over 11,000 in the Bay Area who were without power overnight from Thursday into Friday.

Along the central coast, crews worked on clearing debris from Highway 1 through Big Sur, although they did not estimate when the road would reopen, said Jim Shivers, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation.

In the Sierra, the westbound lanes of Interstate 80 — the main highway leading to the Lake Tahoe area — reopened to passenger vehicles on Friday afternoon. The eastbound lanes remained closed.

In the East Bay, a portion of Port Chicago Highway in Concord was closed to traffic because of flooding, as was Alhambra Avenue in Martinez. The swollen Alhambra Creek also washed away the dams and lodge built by the famed beavers that live in the creek.

In Fremont, crews cleared mud from railroad tracks along Niles Canyon Road on Friday. Altamount Commuter Express train service was suspended Thursday afternoon and all day Friday because of a slide onto the tracks.

Elsewhere in Northern California, residents around Clear Lake stocked up on sandbags, as the lake rose above flood stage for the first time in 13 years.

The lake, 100 miles northwest of Sacramento, was expected to rise even more as it collected storm runoff over the next few days, said Tom Smythe, a water resources engineer with Lake County.

Smythe said some homes around the lake have already experienced flooding and others could be inundated in the coming days. But he said he did not anticipate the kind of flooding that occurred in 1998, when the lake was two feet higher than it was expected to be this time.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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