Sausalito landslide victims return home to retrieve personal items

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KGO) -- There was an emotional homecoming in Sausalito Tuesday as victims returned to retrieve personal belongings from houses damaged in a landslide last week.

Structural engineers allowed residents to return to the duplex that slid off its foundation five days ago.

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A plank of wood and an open window was all the residents needed to access their treasured items.

"It was like opening the door to the Matrix," said Sarah Wilson while remembering how the carport disappeared. "It was black. Nothing there."

"There was mud, everywhere," her husband Bryan, remembered.

The Wilsons have been living with a friend. Since the slide, they have wanted to retrieve personal items from the remains of their rented duplex at 412 . "I know exactly where everything is. I made a list," said Susan.

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Compared with most slide victims who rented, tenants, they're fortunate. Landlords David Johnson and Winston Ashmead already returned security deposits and hired a contractor to find an entry. "We're taking care of ourselves but our tenants are our first priority," said Ashmead.

Bryan, Sarah, and their neighbor Caryn Sachs went after only for the essentials, today.

"Jewelry, clothes, paperwork, passports, checkbooks," said Caryn.

Neighbor Susan Gordon watched from a distance. She's the woman who somehow survived sliding down the ravine. Just this morning she awoke to a nightmare, reliving the experience. "Why was I saved? Why am I alive?"

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The effort to retrieve personal items took just more than one hour. Call it a tense farewell to what had been home sweet home.

"Would you move back in?" we asked Bryan Wilson. "No," he answered.

"Do you feel fortunate?" we asked Sarah. "Extremely fortunate. Lucky to be alive," she said.

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