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Southwest recovering from week of powerful storms

SEAL BEACH, Calif. - The sky was blue and the sun bright for the first time in days after a week of powerful Southern California rain storms, but all Victoria Macey could see was the mountain of steaming trash and twisted debris on her favorite beach.

"I'm completely shocked. From our house, all we could see was gorgeous clouds and then we come down here and there's so much trash. It's really sad," Macey said.

The mounds of soggy sofa cushions, rusted shopping carts, children's toys, and hundreds of plastic cans and food wrappers were left by a week of punishing rain that pelted Southern California and went on to Arizona and New Mexico.

Saturday, hundreds of residents who evacuated from wildfire-scarred communities in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills north of Los Angeles returned home to assess the damage and remove mud and debris from their properties. There were no reports of major damage despite widespread concerns about mudslides and debris flows from the relentless rain.

About half of the 500 residents of a small western Arizona farming community who were evacuated after floodwaters swept through the town Thursday, had returned and were surveying the damage yesterday.

Still, the storm was not done as it swept east across the Southwest.

Forecasters warned of blowing and drifting snow at higher elevations, and issued winter weather and wind advisories for southern New Mexico. More than 2 feet of snow have fallen in the Chama area in northern New Mexico, while parts of southwestern New Mexico got 27 inches of snow.

Harsh winter weather also hit the Dakotas, where thousands of people were without power after icy weather toppled miles of power lines.

A smaller storm was forecast for Southern California beginning Tuesday and would last about two days, said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Vanderburg.

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