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California storms wreak holiday havoc

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

The storm's push across the West left a muddy mess yesterday 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.

The inland region of Southern California east of Los Angeles was emerging as among the hardest-hit areas. In Highland, people were literally chased from their homes by walls of mud and water, leaving behind dwellings strung with holiday lights.

They returned yesterday to find as many as 70 homes, some with Christmas presents under the tree, inundated with mud several feet deep.

Leslie Constante burst into tears when she approached her parents' house and saw a red tag slapped on the garage. She couldn't get inside to see how bad the damage was to Christmas gifts and other belongings.

The storm caused at least $10 million in damage to homes, roads, levees and bridges in San Bernardino County alone, said county fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez. - AP

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