Rhea Mahbubani

200 Yards of Mud: Orinda Home Deemed Unsafe After Slide

A mudslide the size of two football fields crashed into an Orinda house earlier this week while the homeowner was still inside. While the man came away unscathed, he had a massive cleanup job ahead of him.

Standing inside his destroyed bathroom, Paul Vittimberga on Thursday recalled hearing the earth move.

It “sounded like very loud thunder,” he said of Tuesday’s storm-fueled slide.

Then Vittimberga noticed the mud and debris seeping through the walls of his Van Tassel Lane property.

“I started to see the back wall coming in and snapping and breaking,” he said.

The man made it out alive – but just barely – by crawling over a mountain. But some of Vittimberga’s most valuable possessions didn’t survive.

“My wallet, my hard drive with all the kids’ photos, it’s all in the bottom of that somewhere,” he lamented.

Contra Costa County housing officials have red-tagged Vittimberga’s house with another round of rain making a beeline for the Bay Area. Meanwhile, more mud is sliding from the hillside above his property.

The house next door has been yellow-tagged.

“This is the worst we’ve seen in terms of a land slide in Orinda this winter,” said Drummond Buckley, the city’s planning director.

On Thursday, neighbors were worried the hillside will move again, perhaps into other homes nearby.

"I think all of us are concerned about how much of that hill is going to give," resident Margaret Schultz said.

For his part, Vittimberage added: “Hopefully, the hill will stabilize see if we get a break in the rain.”

City officials say the hill is private property, so the owner is responsible for the cleanup.

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