San Rafael House Crushed By Mudslide As Heavy Rains Pummel North Bay

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — The heavy rains from the latest storm system to slam the Bay Area has caused major damage in Marin County with a mudslide destroying a San Rafael home and a Kentfield neighborhood flooded by the overflowing Corte Madera Creek.

Flash flood warnings were issued for rivers and creeks in Napa, Marin and Santa Cruz counties while flood waters rushed through downtown San Anselmo. By 12 p.m. Tuesday, Kentfield had received 6.3 inches of rain while San Rafael had gotten 3.36 inches.

The slide destroyed the house located at 287 Mountain View Avenue in San Rafael.

Homeowner John Futscher said that the slide started late Monday night. Futscher explained that it took time for the slow slide of the hillside to push the house off its foundation.

“I thought we would be fine, but we ended up having to run out of the house. It just kept coming,” explained Futscher. “It took about an hour and a half. It changed what my two-story house looks like.”

Firefighters responded to the home around 8 a.m. when a resident called about a tree that appeared ready to fall, San Rafael Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Rowan said.

Public work officials had assessed the slide and told the Futscher family they had to leave the home, red-tagging the residence.

“Mud started coming out of the kitchen window, and that’s when my wife and my son and I ran out of the house with the dog,” said Futscher.

The family home had been built by Futscher’s parents in the 1950s.

The face of the hill came sliding down, flattening the home and pushing it into the sidewalk and neighboring property.

Nick Curcio was painting a home down the street when he saw the mud come pouring down.

“I heard all these trees right here just start snapping!” said Curcio. “And it fell on the back of the house and it was all downhill from there”

By early afternoon, the home had almost been pushed into the street. Futscher said they only got out with the clothes on their backs, but that neighbors were helping them get together necessities as they tried to figure out where they would be staying.

Two other houses on Mountain View Avenue were red-tagged as uninhabitable. One also was damaged by the slide and the other had three feet of mud behind it, Rowan said.

Some of their surrounding neighbors have been consulting geologist to ensure their homes aren’t threatened.

One of the hardest hit areas is a Kentfield neighborhood near the College of Marin. The surging waters from the Corte Madera Creek swamp several nearby streets and parts of the campus.

Flood water was up to the doors of this car just a block from the creek.

Water rescue teams used canoes to go door to door to check on people. Others who were flooded out their homes used kayaks to get to dry land.

“Starting at 8 o’clock, the water was just rushing up our street, up cedar, very fast,” said local resident Lesley Van Voorhes. “The lawn is under. The basement is under. The kayaks are floating.”

Authorities are warning people to say away from the flooded creek because of dangers lurking below the surface.

“The water is moving very fast. Its cold and there are lot of strainers in the water, meaning objects in the river that could basically entangle you if you do wind up in the water,” said Marin Fire Department Battalion Chief Bret McTigue. “So our water rescue teams have made a number of rescues this morning.”

McTigue said about 40 homes in the area have substantial amounts of water in them. He called it the worst flooding in what’s already been a wet winter for residents there.

Marin Fire officials said the creek level hit 20 feet, well above flood stage.

Rescue teams on jet skis were also patrolling the flooded neighborhood and helping residents who need help evacuating the area.

Several Marin County school districts were forced to close including the Kentfield School District, the Ross School District, Tam Union, Mill Valley and Sausalito/Marin City schools. The Lagunitas and Fairfield-Suisun schools were also closed.

About 2,476 PG&E customers were without power in the North Bay as of late afternoon Tuesday.

In Novato, state Highway 37 has been closed between U.S. Highway 101 and Atherton Avenue because of flooding. An estimated time for when the highway would reopen was not given.

Caltrans crews are currently on scene and attempting to pump water out of the roadway, California Highway Patrol officials said.

The highway, which has proven vulnerable to flooding, has already been closed twice for days at a time this year alone following heavy rain.

Also in Marin County, Caltrans has closed state Highway 1 in both directions between the Panoramic Highway and Muir Woods Road. Caltrans officials estimated the highway wouldn’t reopen until March or early April.

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