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Laguna Beach's slow recovery from mud damage

January 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Kevin Naughton has been scooping up broken asphalt and mud that has covered what used to be his nursery in Laguna Beach."We're pretty much wiped out," said Naughton, owner of the Laguna Gardens Nursery. "I've never seen such extensive damage in the 25 years I've been here."

The damage from last month's storm is estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

"It's a bit overwhelming," Naughton said. "You think you're sort of getting a grip on it, then you open a drawer to a file cabinet and it's full of mud."

Down Laguna Canyon Road at Anneliese Schools, there's also much to clean up.

Fans were set up to dry out buildings on the private school property. Muddy debris last month crashed in, destroying several learning centers, including a new computer lab and an educational kitchen.

School officials said the cost to repair all of the damage could be more than $1 million.

"Without help and donation, there's no way we can rebuild that," said Henry Martin of the Anneliese Schools.

The school is grateful to volunteers who managed to get enough cleaned up for the first day back to class for 400 young students following the holiday break.

"We had all those volunteers coming, 80 to 100 any given day: Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve," Martin said.

Monday's rain in most of Orange County was done by mid-morning, but it still had some on edge, especially in Laguna Beach where earlier storms caused more than $10 million in damage.

"It's always in the back of your mind when it rains," said Maria Dudley, a Laguna Beach resident. "You look up to the hills and hope nothing's coming down."