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Resident: City released water before OC slide

Geologists are investigating a massive landslide in San Clemente that created a dangerous situation for residents.

January 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A neighborhood is teetering on the edge of a cliff after the earth gave way on a San Clemente bluff.Four homes on the 200 block of Via Bellena are red-tagged and residents are questioning if the landslide could have been prevented.

"The city of San Clemente are the ones pumping the water into the street," said homeowner Sean O'Flynn. "I saw a stream of water...coming down the sidewalk."

The water was seen hours before the slide that left those homes red-tagged, meaning they're no longer safe to live in.

"I don't sleep, I don't eat and it's wracking my nerves," said resident Joseph Arriola.

Arriola's home is next to the red-tagged houses and is being closely watched by officials. He also recalls seeing the city release water down the street a week ago.

"Why would you drain all that water when we've had so much rain in the area in the last couple of weeks?" said Arriola.

City officials said it's too early to say what caused last Thursday's slide, but some residents question whether it's connected with a slide down the street in 2006 that left four homes unlivable.

O'Flynn's property has been slowly moving since the 2006 slide. He and three other neighbors are suing the city.

Several other homeowners from last week's slide are also talking with an attorney.

"We believe the city system has been leaking water over the years because of the movement of the slope," said attorney Serge Tomassian.

City Engineer Bill Cameron said he hasn't had a chance to talk to the city's staff yet. He also said he couldn't comment on the lawsuits.

Paula Cunningham, who lost her home four years ago, said she can't help but think of the recent slide victims.

"I really feel for these people. I really know what they're going through," said Cunningham.

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