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Storms Slow Efforts To Clear Scotts Valley Landslide

SCOTTS VALLEY (CBS SF) - Authorities in Santa Cruz County don't yet know when they will be able to clear a rockslide near Scotts Valley that has left dozens of residents stranded.

"We don't have a timescale for when the mud will be cleared," county analyst Melodye Serino said.

The slide occurred Monday on Nelson Road, blocking access to about 26 homes in the area of Nelson Road and Sky Meadow Lane.

Serino said local agencies have been meeting with residents to discuss plans to clear the dirt, but so far the best they've managed is an alternate route for pedestrians to walk around the fallen rocks.

The rain hasn't helped. Crews have been trying to get the mud off the pavement, but showers have prevented them from being able to clear the slide.

"There are still some rocks coming down from up above," said John Presleigh, director of Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works.

"The problem is that it was raining most of the night and into today," he said.

Presleigh said the wet environment makes terrain unsafe for geologists to really get a good look at the rocks and assess the damage.

In the meantime, residents have been coping with the situation.

Nancy Trask was at home when the rock slide covered Nelson Road—where her house is located—and prevented her from leaving.

"My husband's been here for 25 years, other folks for 30-plus years, and no one's seen anything like this," she said.

"We are being optimistic and patient," said Trask, who noted that she's been unable to get to her job, where she works as a substance abuse counselor.

"My job is impacted and who knows what that will mean down the line," she said.

The path isn't safe at night because it's dark and slippery, Trask said.

"I can't walk through because it's pitch black," said Trask, who works during the evening.

"Some people are worried," said sheriff's Deputy April Skalland, who has been assisting the rescue efforts. "Others realize this is nature of the beast when living up in the mountains."

Some residents who were initially stranded have been staying put, while others have left, Skalland said.

"Some people with children went to stay with family elsewhere," she said.

Many residents in the more than 30 houses impacted by the slide are able to use the path and access a car on the other side to do their chores.

"It's very sketchy," said Kris Kaufeldt, who also lives in one of the secluded houses.

"You drive down to the landslide, park your car, walk along the path, and use a car on the other side," he said. "On Tuesday, I saw about five cars parked near the temporary pedestrian road."

Most people are hoping officials build a temporary road for cars.

"If we could just get the one-lane road put in, everyone will be a lot happier," Trask said.

Others just want their power restored.

About four people lost power because the rock slide also took out a power pole.

"They were told they would not get electricity and to find alternative housing," Trask said.

But everyone is remaining as optimistic as possible.

"As neighbors, we all pitch in every year and help out each other," Kaufeldt said. "But this is not what we signed up for at all."

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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