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November 24, 2021

County: Evacuations near CZU burn scar take effect Sunday morning

Update (Oct. 23, 5pm)

Residents in the northern reaches of the San Lorenzo Valley are being asked to evacuate at 8am Sunday in anticipation of heavy rains that could trigger debris flows near the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar.

The evacuation orders include much of Brookdale and Boulder Creek and a few areas near Ben Lomond and Felton.

On the North Coast, Swanton and the majority of residents off of Last Chance Trail are also being asked to evacuate.

The County has identified approximately 319 addresses that are considered low-lying, high-risk homes for debris flow.

The County plans to open a shelter at 8am on Sunday at San Lorenzo Valley High School. If possible, the County asks residents to seek shelter with friends and families.

Residents are encouraged to look up their evacuation zone at community.zonehaven.com.

Original story

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office began door-to-door outreach Saturday in anticipation of possible evacuations that could be triggered by debris flows near the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar.

In a press release, County officials said deputies are contacting homes in the low-lying, high-risk areas that have the highest potential for evacuation. This outreach will be limited to Saturday. 

Officials issued evacuation warnings Saturday morning after the National Weather Service (NWS) said that strong rainfall, 8-10 inches, was expected Sunday for several areas in Northern California, including the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The “atmospheric river,” NWS said, could produce “significant and life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, particularly over burn scar areas.”

In preparation for debris flow evacuations, the County has opened a virtual Temporary Evacuation Point (TEP). Residents can call 831-454-2181 with questions regarding evacuations and resources.

The County plans to open a shelter at 8am on Sunday when residents are notified of required evacuations.

The majority of the evacuation warnings have been issued in the northern reaches of the San Lorenzo Valley around Boulder Creek, but a few neighborhoods in Ben Lomond and Felton were also given evacuation warnings. Swanton on the North Coast was also asked to prepare to evacuate.

Residents are encouraged to look up their evacuation zone at community.zonehaven.com, and register landlines, cell phones or VoIP phones with CodeRED by visiting scr911.org and signing up for notifications, or texting SCR911 to 99411.

Debris flows are fast-moving masses of mud, rocks, boulders, trees and sometimes homes or vehicles. They move quickly and are often deadly to those in their path. 

The only way to avoid debris flows is to move to safety prior to any debris flow event. 

When evacuating, the County says to follow these steps:  

  • Follow instructions from local officials, including for travel routes.  
  • Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.  
  • Take your emergency go-bag or disaster supply kit.  
  • Lock your home. 
  • Let others know when you left and where you are going.  
  • Make arrangements for pets and livestock, if necessary.  

The weather forecast anticipates high winds and the potential for downed trees. Residents should exercise caution when leaving their homes during the storm. For road conditions, visit sccroadclosure.com.

Those needing assistance with large animals should call Equine Evac at 831-708-8998.

If evacuation orders are issued Sunday, it would mark the second time officials have asked residents to leave their homes because of possible debris flows.

In January, less than half of residents that were asked to evacuate from the Santa Cruz Mountains did so, according to data reported to this publication by the Boulder Creek Fire Department.

Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.


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