Residents of four apartment buildings teetering on the edge of a collapsed hillside in San Clemente were given an opportunity to remove their belongings Thursday after all four were red-tagged.
Officials in Orange County are trying to determine the next steps in the recovery effort.
“This is going to be a longer-term process,” said San Clemente Mayor Chris Duncan at a press conference on Thursday. “What we are concerned about, from the city’s perspective, is that everyone is taken care of…we’ve interacted with our residents and made sure that they know that they can count on us to take care of them through this difficult time.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Levin announced that the federal government responded to his request to have Orange County added to the list of California counties included in the federal emergency declaration following the destructive winter weather dating back to December.
“I’m proud to report that the White House approved our request, and Orange County is now included in the federal emergency declaration,” said Levin. “That declaration will allow the federal government to provide emergency resources that will come directly to this community and help our residents.”
The hillside behind the four multi-unit homes on Buena Vista collapsed around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, damaging multiple residences and scattering debris.
“Across Orange County, we are seeing upwards of four million dollars in damage, just as of today, and that’s just since March 9,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley.
Residents were given an hour on Thursday to collect as many belongings as they could before they were fully evacuated. Officials have not announced when they can move back in.
“I heard this weird sound while I was drinking coffee, and I looked out onto my deck and I was like ‘Whoa, okay, there goes the hill’,” said CJ Smith, one of the evacuated residents. “I was dressed and out in five minutes.”
More landslides occurred on Wednesday night, prompting authorities to fully evacuate the homes.
“The area is unstable, and right now it’s unknown whether or not there is going to be secondary slides,” said Capt. Brian Abney with the Orange County Fire Department. “That’s why the city has people out here evaluating that.”
If you need assistance, call the Orange County Administration Office at 714-834-3550 or the office of state Sen. Janet Nguyen at 916-651-4036.