Officials deem Southern California landslide ‘unprecedented’ as assistance arrives

It has been approximately a week since residents of Peartree Lane noticed unusual occurrences near their homes. These include new cracks in driveways, water appearing in unexpected places, and even abnormally high utility bills. The cause of the landslide that nearly destroyed a dozen homes on July 8 in Rolling Hills Estates has not yet been determined. However, the city officials in this small town of 8,000 are certain that an event like this has never happened before. Councilmember Frank Zerunyan stated, “This is unprecedented…I don’t know of any other cities that have dealt with such a calamity.”

City officials, along with County Supervisor Janice Hahn, County Chief Anthony Marrone, and other local officials, recently gave a tour of the devastation to state Sen. Ben Allen and Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi. The main message conveyed after the tour was that help is on the way. City, county, and state officials are collaborating to assess the damage, as stated by Kevin McGowan, CEO of the county’s Office of Emergency Management. Once this assessment is complete, local services will be invited to provide assistance.

Peartree Lane residents will not have to travel far to receive aid, as the county plans to establish a “one-stop” workshop for residents. This workshop will offer various services, such as obtaining new passports, re-issuing important documents, and addressing insurance questions. The goal is to make it convenient for residents, who are still dealing with the aftermath of losing everything.

Officials acknowledge that progress may seem slow and there may be uncertainty about the next steps. However, McGowan assures that they will work as quickly as possible. Rolling Hills Estates recently approved a local emergency declaration, which enables county services to be deployed. The county will then call upon the state for additional help. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is expected to assess the Peartree landslide area in the near future.

In addition to financial aid, technical experts on landslides and other forms of assistance may be provided by the state and other agencies. The American Red Cross will start providing meals to displaced residents who are temporarily housed in hotels beginning on July 15. This support will continue for the following two weeks. The local school district is also working with families to ensure that students in the affected area have appropriate accommodations to minimize any disruption to their education.

Despite the recent disaster, residents in Rolling Hills Estates and nearby Rancho Palos Verdes appear to be going about their daily routines with little concern about a similar catastrophe occurring. Some individuals have visited an overlook across the canyon from the landslide site to observe the fallen townhouses. Deborah Forrester, a resident of Rolling Hills Estates, lives across the canyon at Cresta Palos Verdes and her housing units bear a striking resemblance to the townhouses that are slowly slipping into the canyon.


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