Mudslides, Sinkholes, Hazardous Weather Plague Moraga, Evacuations Underway - NBC Bay Area
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Mudslides, Sinkholes, Hazardous Weather Plague Moraga, Evacuations Underway



    The rain-saturated ground is moving in Moraga, and it's causing major problems for residents. Christie Smith reports (Published Sunday, March 13, 2016)

    The rain-saturated ground is moving in Moraga, and it's causing major problems for residents.

    Moraga police said residents of 60 to 100 homes have been asked to shelter in place as PG&E crews repair a gas main break Sunday. The break occurred at 5 p.m. at Center Street and Rheem Boulevard after a traffic signal pole fell into a sinkhole and ruptured a gas line, Acting Police Chief Jon King said.

    About 450 people from nearby businesses have been evacuated because of the break, which was producing a strong odor in the area.

    About 2:30 p.m., police received a report of a possible sinkhole at Center Street and Rheem Boulevard, adjacent to Moraga Road. Police cordoned off the area and realized a traffic signal pole
    might fall into the sinkhole.

    As expected "the surface gave way and the pole dropped in" and ruptured what appeared to be a 4-inch gas line, King said. 

    King said he heard the sound of the gas in the background through a radio call. 

    Customers of the Rheem Theater, 24 Hour Fitness and other businesses in the area have been evacuated, according to police.

    Employees say they worked with police to ensure smooth evacuations. 

    "I had to evacuate. (Customers) safety comes first, of course," said store clerk Andrew Farag. 

    Restaurants were also cleaned out mid-meal. 

    "He just said we had to evacuate. They said they were evacuating everyone in this restaurant." said Tom Saviano of Moraga, who was out to dinner when the break occured. "I thought we had a little safe haven to get something to eat, and they said 'no, we have to go south of here or north." 


    Meanwhile, popular hiking and walking trails have been flogged with downpour. 

    Recent heavy rainfall has created hazardous conditions on the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, according to park officials.

    Officials from the East Bay Regional Park District are asking pedestrians, bicyclists, dog walkers and other trail users to take extra caution when on the trail between Canyon and Country Club Roads.

    A portion of the trail remains closed since Jan. 21 due to a landslide, and park officials are asking trail goers to respect any additional closures that may occur over the next few months for public safety

    Engineers from the East Bay Municipal Utility District are working on stabilizing the slide area, park officials said. 

    The deluge of rain and looming threat of mudslides have prompted two homeowners to leave the area.

    Unfortunately, engineers say they likely won't be able to evaluate how loose the soil is until the summer. Only then will they be able to determine if the ground is solid or in danger of a mudslide. 

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