On Jan. 14, Scotts Valley joined other local jurisdictions when City Manager Mali LaGoe issued a Proclamation declaring a local emergency, to be ratified by the City Council. This declaration was based on the presence of flooding, downed trees, power outages, retaining wall failures, mudslides and other storm impacts.
Scotts Valley has fared much better than other local jurisdictions. President Biden declared storm damage in Santa Cruz County a disaster, clearing the way for federal assistance to cities, individuals and business owners so they can recover from the storm damage.
To protect Scotts Valley, City staff have gone all out to confront the storm and minimize damage. Smart, proactive and ongoing staff efforts have prevented what could have been a much worse outcome for the City’s infrastructure and residents.
Public Works maintenance crews have given their best efforts to get ahead of, and regularly monitor, the city’s hot spots for debris backups and flooding. They have continued these efforts throughout storms, checking and clearing out drainage areas to prevent flooding. In particular, areas around Carbonera Creek have been vulnerable to flooding and crews have been busy removing logs to unclog backups.
City staff may have their own storm-related issues at home or may have difficulty getting back and forth from home to work, but they are protecting Scotts Valley.
Maintenance crews have also been busy dealing with fallen trees and mudslides along roads. A large slide has closed Green Hills Road and the City has opened the gate between Green Hills Road and South Navarra Drive for access by residents and businesses. One lane of the road should be open this week, but it is likely that only one lane will be open until summer.
Wastewater staff diligently worked throughout the New Year holiday weekend to prevent the plant from becoming overwhelmed by stormwater, and they have continued to operate the aging facility and keep flows within reasonable capacity through subsequent storms. Staff was at work when the new year arrived. Other Bay Area cities have encountered sewage spills because of the storms, but that has not occurred here.
Our Police Department team also did an excellent job, coordinating with other law and fire agencies and patrolling our City. They reported issues to Public Works for their responses. The outstanding teamwork between the Police and Public Works Departments has been another significant reason why the City fared so well.
Other hard-working City Hall staff have supported the valiant efforts of field staff and have responded to numerous questions from the public.
Along with other regional representatives, I was invited to tour PG&E’s Santa Cruz County base camp. Committed PG&E workers have been busy dealing with falling trees and utility wires all over the County, including Scotts Valley. PG&E staff, along with tree workers, cleared wires and tree debris from Granite Creek Road in the City when it was closed down.
I learned that PG&E has more than 700 representatives responding on a priority basis to power outage issues throughout Santa Cruz County, but primarily in the San Lorenzo Valley. They have more than 7,000 workers throughout their territory. Supporting this work are people from eight other states and Canada.
With each new storm outages climb, fall back as PG&E responds, and then climb back again with the next storm. At peak periods, 32,000 customers have been without power throughout the county.
Scotts Valley Community Center was open as a Temporary Evacuation Point, staffed by volunteers, to provide water, food, parking and information to anyone who has been evacuated. In particular, evacuees from the San Lorenzo Valley were in need of assistance. Anyone needing shelter has been directed to shelters in Santa Cruz.
Many of the roads into Scotts Valley have been closed, impacting residents and workers. These closures have included Highway 17, Mt. Hermon Road, Glenwood Drive, Granite Creek Road, and Bean Creek Road. At this time, Granite Creek Road, Bean Creek Road and Glenwood Drive are impassable at points outside of Scotts Valley city limits.
As a community that has been impacted far less than surrounding communities, I encourage everyone to help others who are in need of assistance in any way you can.
The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County (831-427-5070) is actively organizing groups to assist families who have been severely impacted by floods. They are searching for groups of volunteers willing to work with individual families and stick with them for four to six weeks as they work through recovery.
I am incredibly grateful to everyone, especially city workers, assisting our City with storm efforts and cleanup. Let’s hope that the rain backs off for a while, so we can regroup, repair and return to our normal lives.
Jack Dilles is mayor for the City of Scotts Valley. To reach Dilles, email [email protected] or call 831-566-3180.