Early January storm pummels the Valley into submission, and students into their homes, for one last day of winter break

January started off with possibly the worst storm the Santa Cruz Mountains has seen in over 20 years. On Monday, January 2nd, Santa Cruz County residents were warned of an approaching storm. With light rain a few days prior, many had already prepared for power outages and other issues. After living in the mountains, most have learned to take weather issues in stride and swiftly make preparations. The true mountains veterans were already ready for anything, such as Junior Lauren Lozier. “We knew it was coming but we didn’t really have anyway to prepare; our roads are usually pretty clear and safe, so the worst we had to worry about was taking different routes or the power going out.” Lozier stated. As the rain started to pelt down, concerns were raised drastically.

The Santa Cruz Mountains, mainly the Boulder Creek area, started experiencing sudden mudslides on Wednesday, January 4th. The San Lorenzo River reached above flood levels with no signs of stopping, while the Barbara Day Park Dam, in Boulder Creek, was spilling over. At the same time, the Loch Lomond Reservoir in Lompico was overflowing as well. In order to attempt to help frantic residents, the County offered free sandbags at various fire stations and other locations in both Felton and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Citizens took full advantage of the help to keep the water from causing any major damage to homes or other property. Sandbags could be seen lining homes and buildings in Boulder Creek, protecting the structures from flooding.

For the next three days, there was a slight lull in the storm. Emergency storm warnings were still in effect, with advisories for everyone to stay home if at all possible. The majority of people in the mountains were without power, which did briefly come on later on Thursday night.

After falsely believing the weather problems were over, the county was hit with the worst patch of the now infamous Santa Cruz Storm on Sunday the 8th. The SLV River was completely overflowing, and breakneck high speed winds even flung a car camper shell into the rapid waters. Power lines and trees were falling rapidly, closing down almost every road. If one were following Santa Cruz County and the Boulder Creek Fire Department on Twitter, they would have received news of another road closing almost every two minutes. Most took shelter at home or wherever they were, instead of attempting to brave the live wire covered road. A particularly nasty situation arose towards the Boy Scout Ranch up Bear Creek Road in Boulder Creek, with wires in the middle of street blocking any access along the road. The entire area of Boulder Creek also experienced issues with cell service. The farther areas of the town up along Bear Creek road had no power and no cell service, leaving them completely isolated.

When people

mudslides.jpg
One of the thousands of mudslides: Mercury News

were able to safely emerge from their homes on Monday morning, everything was in shambles. Homeowners looked in bafflement at their damaged roofs and property, animal owners called for their soaking wet pets, and high school students
loudly celebrated
when their roads were too damaged for them to go to attend school, on what would have been the first day back from break. There were over 30 roads closed to to storm damage, not including highways. The only way in and out of Boulder Creek was Jamieson Creek Road, considered more a windy mountain trail than a road. A quarter mile away from the Bear Creek and Highway 9 intersection, an entire section of Bear Creek road disappeared in the chaos, never to return. One whole lane is missing, and each day there’s more rain, one can see more dirt underneath the asphalt overhang falling away. The county has installed stop signs and lights, indicating
that this delicate one lane will have to be the only viable way on Bear Creek Road. It seems that the mountain area took the brunt of the damage, while areas farther away, such as Santa Cruz, received significantly less damage. “I personally found the weather to be nice, since we usually don’t receive that much rain in much a short period of time.” Sophomore Tilia Lundberg said. While the storm has been
an exciting break for m
any students, it ha
s left our valley and other areas of the county in a state of concern and shock.


Almost a month later, on February 3rd, predictions of another storm hitting Santa Cruz County caused alarm. Damage from the previous storm was still being repaired, and Bear Creek Road faced the threat of deteriorating even more. When
asked about his thoughts on what would happen the the road in the event of another storm, Junior Rhys Jones replied “It would only make the problem much worse… people need to get places.” This brings up a concerning point, if Bear Creek Road is gone, hundreds of commuters, as well as all of the people who live along the road, will be forced to take a huge detour, almost a full hour out of their way. As the beginning of February rolls in, and the rain and wind picks up speed ever so slightly, Santa Cruz County residents can only hold their breaths and hope for mercy from the unforgiving Mother Nature.

by Cat Obsidian

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