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Santa Cruz County Storm Damage Estimated At $17M

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Capitola, flood, storm, river, mud

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

CAPITOLA (CBS / AP) — Officials in Santa Cruz County are estimating that recent heavy storms caused at least $17 million in damage due to flooding, collapsing roads and rock and mudslides.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that the Board of Supervisors is expected to declare a local emergency Tuesday night as the first step toward seeking state and federal aid.

County government officials put the damage in unincorporated areas of the county at about $7 million, including a slide near Scotts Valley last week that cut off access to more than 30 homes.

The town of Capitola is expected separately to seek aid for an estimated $10 million in damage caused when a drainpipe broke, sending a wall of water down village streets and into shops.

To the south, crews continued working on trying to clear a mudslide that closed a section of Highway 1 near Alder Creek, about 38 miles south of the rustic town of Big Sur.

The slide Sunday afternoon came just before another slide several miles to the north was cleared. The latest slide means several dozen miles of the Big Sur coastline are effectively hemmed in from the north and south following the collapse of some 200 feet of Highway 1 south of Carmel near the Bixby Creek Bridge earlier this month.

That section of road will likely still not be open to automobile traffic for a few weeks, but state Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Shivers said pedestrians and bicyclists will now be able to travel a half-mile temporary bypass twice a day starting Wednesday.

The Alder Creek slide likely won’t be cleared for at least a week, Shivers said.

In Fresno County, a stretch of highway that runs through the Fresno County foothills is closed for at least two weeks after car-sized boulders tumbled onto the roadway.

Last week’s storms caused two rock slides onto Highway 168 over the weekend. The first one happened Saturday morning and the second one on Sunday afternoon.

Geologists with state Transportation Department determined Monday that the hillside is still too dangerous to allow traffic through. Officials have closed an 11-mile stretch of the highway, forcing drivers to take detours on local roads.

A contractor is blasting through the boulders and also working to stabilize the hillside amid concerns that rising temperatures will bring lots of snow runoff.

Officials say they’re aiming to reopen Highway 168 by April 11.

(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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