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Southbound Hwy 17 Reopens After Massive Slide

LOS GATOS (CBS SF) -- A massive slide slammed hundreds of pounds of rock and dirt onto Highway 17 early Tuesday, forcing the northbound lanes of the main traffic artery through the Santa Cruz Mountains to be shut down at least until early Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The Highway 17 slide was just one of several slides and roadway flooding that closed numerous highways in the region to be closed for several hours.

At around 11:30 a.m., CHP in Santa Cruz announced that Highway 17 was shut down in both directions due to the slide.

The slide happened at West Vine Hill Road in Scotts Valley and while it primarily affected the northbound lanes, the entire highway has been closed as crews try to determine how to start work clearing the debris.

Shortly before 6 p.m., CHP tweeted that one southbound lane of Highway 17 had reopened. The second southbound lane reopened shortly after 6 p.m., though there was still significant delays due to the volume of traffic.

There was no projected time to reopen the northbound lanes of Highway 17.

One small Santa Cruz Mountain community was so inundated by Tuesday's rain, residents were forced to evacuate

In the town of Felton, the San Lorenzo River reached major flood stage by noon at nearly 24 feet.

When it came to escaping the dangerous rising waters, people had few options. Some grabbed paddles and hopped in kayaks.

"Some lady and her dog were swimming out of her home back there. Some of those guys are my regular customers, and I see their cars underwater," said Ken Bunter, the owner of an area gas station.

The sheriff's office also sent out search and rescue teams to help people trapped in their homes and buildings.

The storm was creating issues throughout the region between closures and a spike in accidents from hazardous conditions for drivers.

Caltrans officials said Tuesday morning they had been forced to close at least nine highways due to storm-related damage.

In Novato, state Highway 37 has been closed between U.S. Highway 101 and Atherton Avenue because of flooding. An estimated time for when the highway would reopen was not given.

Caltrans crews are currently on scene and attempting to pump water out of the roadway, California Highway Patrol officials said.

The highway, which has proven vulnerable to flooding, has already been closed twice for days at a time this year alone following heavy rain.

Also in Marin County, Caltrans has closed state Highway 1 in both directions between the Panoramic Highway and Muir Woods Road. Caltrans officials estimated the highway wouldn't reopen until March or early April.

In Sonoma County, state Highway 12 at state Highway 121 has been closed. No estimated time for when the highway would reopen was given by Caltrans officials.

Also in Sonoma County, one-way traffic control is in effect on Highway 1 four miles north of Jenner.

In Alameda County, state Highway 84 is closed from Mission Boulevard in Fremont to Main Street in Sunol, with no estimated time for reopening, according to Caltrans.

Highway 84 has also been closed in San Mateo County, near Portola Valley. The highway is closed just west of state Highway 35 with no estimated time for reopening.

As the San Francisquito Creek near Palo Alto approached flood stage, CHP in Redwood City tweeted out a warning that if the creek overflowed, it could flood Highway 101 at Embarcadero. Drivers were being advised to check their route and expect serious delays if flooding did occur.

In Santa Clara County, state Highway 9 has been closed from Redwood Gulch Road, just east of Saratoga, to the Santa Cruz County line. Caltrans officials estimated the highway wouldn't reopen until Sunday morning.

Also in Santa Clara County, state Highway 152 has been closed between Pole Line Road in Santa Cruz County and Watsonville Road, near Gilroy. Currently, there is no estimated time for when the highway would reopen, according to Caltrans.

In addition to the highway closures, several lanes and on-ramps and off-ramps throughout the region have been temporarily closed.

Drivers are being urged to use caution and to never attempt to drive through flooded roadways.

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