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Californians start cleaning up mud, water, debris

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By Associated Press

HIGHLAND, Calif. (AP) — Leslie Constante burst into tears when she saw a red tag slapped on her parents' garage in Highland, deeming it unsafe to enter.

"My mom and dad worked so hard for this," said the 29-year-old pharmacy technician, wearing knee high rubber boots.

She couldn't get inside to see how bad the damage was to Christmas presents and other belongings. Out front, two holiday reindeer were enveloped in mud several feet deep.

Many California residents who endured flooding, mudslides and evacuations during a weeklong onslaught of rain must now clean up or even rebuild — and some face the prospect of not being able to spend Christmas at home.

The storm's push across the West left a muddy mess Thursday across Southern California and the threat of avalanches in Nevada, where Clark County officials urged residents of Mount Charleston, near Las Vegas, to leave after snow slides near two mountain hamlets.

Preliminary damage estimates throughout California were already in the tens of millions of dollars and expected to rise. A state of emergency was declared in a total of nine counties, including Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Barbara.

The inland region of Southern California east of Los Angeles emerged as among the hardest hit, especially San Bernardino County.


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