SAN CLEMENTE, CA — Federal help is on the way for San Clemente’s efforts combating flooding that has left four apartment buildings in danger of tumbling down a hillside, Rep. Mike Levin announced Thursday.

Levin, D-Dana Point, lives in the area and made a couple of trips this week to inspect the apartment buildings that have been red-tagged in the 1500 block of Buena Vista.

“It’s really quite remarkable down there,” Levin told City News Service. “Four homes have been red-tagged and the whole hillside has had a major amount of debris that has come down.”

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The beach trail in the area is “used very frequently by the community, including our family,” Levin said.

“After the initial landslide yesterday morning I went and saw later in the day what was happening,” he said. “I reached out to the White House and FEMA to have Orange County included in the federal emergency declaration, which followed Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley working on the county level to declare an emergency and with our Sacramento delegation, including Gov. (Gavin) Newsom to declare a state emergency.”

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This will cover all of the bases for relief, starting with the city and working up the ladder of government to the federal level, Levin said.

“I really appreciate the Biden administration for the attention to our county and taking our situation here seriously,” Levin said.

Orange County Fire Authority crews responded at around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday to the 1500 block of Buena Vista and evacuated residents from the structures. The hillside behind the buildings gave way, leaving parts of the structures teetering over the edge.

No injuries were reported.

Residents of the apartments were allowed back in their homes Thursday to collect belongings. It’s unclear if the buildings can be salvaged, Levin said.

“It’s hard to say,” he said. “They’ll do a thorough review of the safety of the slope and go from there.”

The four buildings were all yellow tagged, meaning their habitability was limited, and city crews were on the scene to assess the structures, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

They were later downgraded to red-tagged, meaning it was too dangerous for them to be inhabited.

San Clemente Mayor Chris Duncan told Patch that the city was proactively aiding the residents displaced by the landslide, adding that the city put one family up in a hotel after they were evacuated later into the day with no place to go.

“Safety’s our first priority — we were so incredibly happy that deputies and firefighters could get everyone evacuated from their homes before any injuries,” Duncan told Patch. “We have serious concerns. This is a dynamic situation, as we are still seeing some movement in the soil.”

Residents were urged to avoid the area.

Buena Vista was closed from Avenida Florencio to Calle Colina, along with the beach trail below the landslide between North Beach and El Portal.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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