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Storm washes out part of Santa Rosa Creek Road east of Cambria

Part of Santa Rosa Creek Road near Cambria falls into raging waters

Floodwaters from the creek undercut a segment of Santa Rosa Creek Road about five miles east of Cambria, sending most of the eastbound lane down into the creek Monday, January 9, 2017. Some of the damage to the road is near Coast Union High School
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Floodwaters from the creek undercut a segment of Santa Rosa Creek Road about five miles east of Cambria, sending most of the eastbound lane down into the creek Monday, January 9, 2017. Some of the damage to the road is near Coast Union High School

Raging floodwaters undercut a segment of Santa Rosa Creek Road about five miles east of Cambria, sending most of the eastbound lane down into the creek Monday morning.

The segment about half a football field long near McCall Ranch was one of two places where the road was failing. It was at danger of further collapse, with asphalt overhanging an area of open space a couple of feet underneath the road, which had been carved away by the creek waters.

A second segment of cracking and slumping closed the road just east of Coast Union High School in Cambria, adding to road woes that included the closure of Highway 1 north of Ragged Point.

PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey reported 6 inches of rain fell at Rocky Butte in the 24-hour period that ended at 8 a.m. Monday. Other North Coast totals were also significant: 4.42 inches at Walter Ranch near Cambria and 3.30 inches at Bill Coy’s place in Cayucos. Cambria itself received 1.84 inches and San Simeon 1.56 inches during the period, Lindsey said.

Overnight, floodwaters rose in Cambria’s West Village, rising up to the pumps at the Shell station at Old Cambria Marketplace.

Eric Johnson at the Shell station said the water “came up to within 3 feet of the front door,” evoking memories of the 1995 flood that rose to near the top of the pump-island awnings.

Johnson said the water started rising about 8 p.m. Sunday, and he estimated that the county worker arrived about 10:45 p.m. to start the flood-control pump about 10:45 p.m.

“The good news is the pump works,” Johnson said.

Scenes from San Luis Creek and areas in and near Avila Beach on Monday, January 9, 2017, as the rains slowed and the floodwaters receded.

The station’s pumps were closed Monday morning, because water got into the tanks, tripping the sensors, Johnson said.

Flooding was also reported at the Pinedorado Grounds near the Veterans Memorial Building on Main Street for the second time in five days and triggered a landslide that trapped an ambulance at the Cambria Community Healthcare District’s Main Street station, buckling a wooden wall behind the facility.

“Nobody was injured and no damage occurred to their fleet; however, until the situation can be resolved, and due to related safety concerns, the crews have temporarily been relocated to Park Hill,” Cambria Fire Chief William Hollingsworth said.

Trees with root systems undermined by loosened, muddy soil, also toppled in a few Cambria locations.

A large tree fell across Sheffield Street in Cambria’s West Village overnight, blocking a resident in near the intersection of Cornwall Street. Sheffield was blocked off Monday morning as crews from Big Tree tree-removal service moved and cut up the wood from the tree. By 9:30 a.m., the resident had access to his home again.

A smaller tree blocked a portion of Kathryn Drive near Buckley Drive, also in Cambria, on Monday morning.

As of 10 a.m. Monday, Hollingsworth reported by email that “after a check this morning, there hasn’t been a horrible impact to our infrastructure … at least not to the extent we have been advised. Most significantly, the west end of town did receive the most significant flooding problems, with water rising up to the pumps at the Shell station.”

He added that Madison Street had suffered “some undercut damage at the dead end, up against” the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

 
A tree blocked access to a resident’s driveway early Monday on Sheffield Street in Cambria’s East Village. Buddy Campo - Special to The Cambrian

Dan Falat, superintendent of the State Parks district that includes Hearst Castle, said some branches fell, but while he got regular reports from his staff on the storm effects, “I didn’t get any phone calls, and that was a good thing. I just monitored the situation.”

Park maintenance staffers are doing assessments in other parks, he said.

In town Monday morning, ambulance crews were busy moving themselves and two ambulances to short-term rental quarters near Shamel Park, according to health care district administrator Bob Sayers. He was hoping that a geotechnical engineer he’d contacted would be able to visit the landslide area Monday afternoon, so “we can get some expert opinions on the hillside, and find out what the best course of action is, if there is one.”

Meanwhile, Scott Wright was busily mopping up the flooding in American Legion Post No. 432’s club at the veterans hall, according to bar manager Lesli Murdoch. She said from 1 to 2 inches of water had flowed into the kitchen and bar areas. Wednesday’s flooding came to the door of the club, she said, which triggered some aggressive sandbagging by Legion members and volunteers from the community and local scout troops.

Electricity was out to about 35 customers in San Simeon for a while Jan. 5, because a falling tree took down a power line.

Highway 41 closed Friday, January 6, 2017, after mudslides during heavy rains. The closure is between Ironwood Drive in Morro Bay and San Gabriel Road in Atascadero.

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