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California mudslides cause heavy economic damage

| Updated: January 14, 2018 12:53:37


California mudslides cause heavy economic damage

The California mudslide that killed at least 18 people is causing distress miles from where the torrent of muck and boulders stopped.

As searchers continued to look for bodies in the thick mud and evacuations remained in effect, the economic damage ranged up and down the coast, far from where the mudslide ravaged place.

The historic San Ysidro Ranch, where President John F. Kennedy and his wife honeymooned, was heavily damaged.

Santa Barbara is a tourist magnet, attracting visitors to its famous beaches and trendy restaurants, says AP.

On Friday, however, there were plenty of seats at eateries, pedestrian traffic was unusually light and parking spaces were often empty.

Mark Schniepp, Director of the California Economic Forecast, said the area is being shaken by a three-pronged problem: Tourists aren't coming in their usual numbers, residents have been forced to move out and thousands of workers can't get to their jobs.

He said some 12,000 daily commuters drive into Santa Barbara from the south, a route now blocked. Those people aren't buying lunch or coffee, or filling up the gas tank on the way to work.

Residents are uprooted, the dollars they would pump into the economy gone with them. January is not high tourism season in Santa Barbara, but now-closed seaside hotels typically lure crowds throughout the year.

Making matters worse, the area recently witnessed a monster wildfire that torched homes and sent clouds of ash and smoke into communities.

Meanwhile, beaches were closed to swimming, after health officials said mud and runoff from heavy rains contained unknown amounts of sewage and contaminants.

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