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California Storm Leaves Flooding, Contaminated Beaches

Residents wade through in flood waters to secure a van and prevent it from going into a river in Silverado Canyon, Calif., Wednesday. (AP)
Residents wade through in flood waters to secure a van and prevent it from going into a river in Silverado Canyon, Calif., Wednesday. (AP)

California residents who endured flooding, mudslides and evacuations during a week-long onslaught of rain now have another problem: contaminated water and fouled beaches.

The rain washed trash, pesticides and bacteria into waterways, prompting health warnings. Four beaches were closed in Northern California's San Mateo County and another 12 miles of beach from Laguna Beach to San Clemente in Southern California's Orange County were off-limits because of sewer overflows.

While the rain eased on Wednesday, the danger was not over for foothill residents living below wildfire-scarred hillsides.

"The ground is so saturated it could move at any time" and the threat will remain for several weeks, said Bob Spencer, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

More than 200 homes were ordered evacuated for more than 24 hours in La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta, suburbs of Los Angeles below steep hillsides that burned in 2009 and where mudslides inundated homes and backyards in February.

After days of relentless rain, long-awaited sunshine was finally in the forecast for Thursday, but officials said Californians may want to resist the urge to head to the ocean.

"It's big enough to pollute each an every beach in LA County. It's a pretty extraordinary event when we have rain like this."

Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay

This program aired on December 23, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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