January storm surge costs money, lives along the coast

The recent storms up and down the coast have caused almost one million dollars in damage to crops and resulted in multiple road closures. This caused a traffic jam near West Cliff drive. There was also a multitude of small landslides, and a cliff fall that claimed multiple lives.

Scientists have been predicting massive storms for the past few years which finally started this winter. It seems that many people were unprepared for significant storm damage. In the past, San Lorenzo Valley has weathered the mild winters well, but this set of storms caused quite a bit of unnecessary trouble.

East Cliff Drive was closed near Twin Lakes Beach as the sea went over the road several times, which caused many problems for residents trying to go to work. The beach was also closed because of large waves and high tide that destroyed some steps leading to the beach.

Because of the flooding, there was almost one million dollars in crop damage, mainly in Watsonville. The agricultural industry is still waiting to see how the massive expense affects business.

Also, a group of UCSC students were swept off of a rock at Bonny Doon Beach by a large wave. Two of the students did not survive.

In addition, a group of two base jumpers were swept out to sea after  landing below the Bixby bridge in Big Sur. They have not been found and are presumed to be dead. They were last seen on film having trouble with parachutes in the surf.

Sophomore Alex Cadel said that, “The damage could could have been prevented.”

The community seems to agree as they have set up El Niño readiness workshops,  and after all the rain, the breaks are giving the roofing business a large workload.

Remember, water flows downhill so if gutters aren’t clean there will be flooding in the event of heavy rains.  In addition, pay attention to a radio for flood and storm warnings.

Farmers are rethinking drainage in the aftermath of the floods in their fields.  Some farmers are adding new drains in the form of ditches or pipes to a river. Others are catching the water for irrigation or drinking. On the topic of drinking, if the El Niño is as big as it is predicted to be then California will have a sight reprieve from the drought. However, it will take more rain to end said drought.

If the rain gets harder or somehow becomes another 1982 El Niño then it can be expected that the San Lorenzo river will overflow. Santa Cruz would experience the flooding and high tide and surf. Those living in the mountains can expect landslides of possibly giant proportions.

Landslides can move downhill at around thirty-five miles per hour and are dangerous to structures and people. They occur most often in places with exposed forests and sparse trees. With El Nino storms we must be careful.

By Sean Dashiell

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