Santa Clara Co mudslide causes fire hazard

March 30, 2011 2:12:06 AM PDT
There are now more problems from too much rain. A sliding hillside in Santa Clara County is doing more than knocking-out ground beneath homes, it's a fire hazard.

Off of Almaden Road, there is not a lot being done to help people out there. It comes down property lines, not necessarily the damage. One person's yard sunk more than three feet since last week.

The damage left after last week's storms is everywhere. Just about everything on a private road, off Almaden Road, is sliding. One driveway has severe cracks in it, cracks are visible in another front yard, and it's even clear to see on the road itself. The dangerous part is as the earth moves, so do all of the utility lines underground -- including a gas pipeline.

"Everybody's house will blow, when it goes. That's what they said, it'll go down the line, everybody's house will blow is what PG&E told me," said Sue Sherrin to the firefighters. Sherrin wants someone to listen and tried explaining the natural gas risk to the firefighters and a Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputy. She said, "I'm so afraid. We keep having gas breaks. Look at what happened to San Bruno."

"This land is obviously sliding away and it breaks the line continuously. We've done this three or four times in the last month, so we're getting tired of it," said Meredith Chang, a homeowner's son.

"The gas line, I've been evacuated at least four times for the gas line that keeps breaking. The last time was this weekend," said Sherrin.

And each time, PG&E comes out to fix it. Residents know something more permanent is necessary, but getting help from public agencies isn't easy since they're on private property.

"The county's not going to do anything, I don't think," said homeowner Adrian Howell. "It doesn't seem right because if we fixed it right, it'd cost $1 million or more so doesn't seem fair."

"It's kind of a safety issue, but at the same time I feel like this is a nightmare," said homeowner Lana Sucala. When asked if she was afraid of living there, she said, "Well, I would say half the time, yes."

That's what homeowners hope will cause some agency to intervene. Tuesday night, the Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Management sent crews to check the gas issue, but they found no leak -- at least, not yet. The crews that were checking for leaks said they'd try to send a geologist or a structural engineer out on Tuesday night, but no one showed as of 11 p.m.

Meanwhile, the house that had its yard fall three feet, was supposed to go on the market this week, but obviously that's not going to happen either.

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