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Orinda Homeowner On Mudslide: 'I Thought It Was Thunder'

ORINDA (KPIX 5) -- A homeowner in Orinda on Thursday described the terrifying experience of having a massive mudslide come crashing through his house, leaving it damaged to the point where county officials red-tagged it.

When it happened last Tuesday morning, Orinda resident Paul Vittimberga thought he was hearing a different storm-related sound outside his house on Van Tassel Lane.

"I thought it was thunder at first," Vittimberga.

He remained remarkably calm when the slide initially hit. He said while it was small at first, the slide quickly became far bigger.

"Then there was a much larger slide that came through the office. I was hiding in the bathroom, in the back of it and I realized that I might get pinned there!" exclaimed Vittimberga. "No window or anyway to get out so I just went ahead and ran right over the slide and out the door."

No one was hurt, but the rear of the house is crushed. The slide was massive, measuring several hundred yards high and hundreds of feet wide. And the mass of earth is still moving.

Contra Costa County officials red tagged the home Thursday. Now no one is allowed to enter.

"A hard disk with all my kid's photos on it is unfortunately under tons of rock," said Vittimberga.

His neighbors were stunned.

"Never seen it actively move like it has today," said one of them.

Across town, another storm-related problem continues to plague Orinda. Miner Road was closed on January 11th by a major sinkhole.

The same stream that caused the sinkhole backed up again this week, flooding several feet deep into a nearby home. The owner too distraught to talk on camera about the damage.

Crews used excavators to clear the channel to alleviate the flooding, but Miner Road will remained closed for weeks, though Orinda officials had some good news for residents near the sinkhole.

"We also waiting for a break in the weather and hope to begin work on the project within the next few days," said Orinda City Manager Janet Keeter.

Work at Vittimberga's house will not be so quick, but he remains positive.

As he was leaving the site, he told KPIX 5 that once the debris is removed and the place dries out, he would have no problem moving back in.

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