El Nino storms delivering crashing waves and powerful rain storms have put homes perched atop coastal bluffs near San Francisco in danger, forcing residents of an apartment complex on Monday to leave.
Two clifftop homes have been evacuated, joining several other nearby houses and apartment buildings abandoned in past years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Pacifica City Manager Lorie Tinfow on Friday declared a local state of emergency, prompted by storm damage to the coastal city about 10 miles south of San Francisco.
"El Nino is hitting the city's coastline very hard and creating almost daily reports of impacts to both public and private property," she said in a statement.
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Storms in 2003 began shearing off huge chunks of the sandstone cliffs in Pacifica. Several of the homes and apartments were abandoned in 2010.
Officials since then shored up the bluffs, stacking rocks at the base of the cliff to break the crashing waves. They also drilled reinforcement rods into the bluffs and coated the cliff-faces with reinforced concrete. The cliffs had held in the last four years of drought, but the newspaper reports that they are no match for recent storms.
A YouTube video posted Saturday shows a large chunk of the cliff breaking off under a vacated apartment building. Parts of other homes and their back patios are left precariously hanging. Storms have also damaged a seawall and the Pacifica Pier, popular with tourists and anglers, partially closing it.
More rain expected
Skies over Northern California have temporarily cleared, following a series of pounding January storms. The newspaper reports that the next round of rain could wash over by mid-week.
Officials on Monday tagged an apartment complex of about 20 units as unsafe, ordering residents to pack their things and be out by sunset. Residents scrambled to find someplace to go.
Jonathan Levine, who had lived in there for more than a year, said he would stay with friends. "I don't want to leave," he told the Associated Press. "It was just matter of time."