Rain may bring slides to Santa Cruz Mtns.

December 23, 2008 7:23:16 PM PST
Tom Wolver knows how dangerous it is to live in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

"When we do have rains, we have power outages, trees limbs coming down, trees falling down, we face floods when some of the creeks dam up," Wolver said.

Wolver also saw flames come dangerously close to his home during the Summit fire in May.

"Two of my friends lost their homes," he said.

As winter arrives, there are new troubles lurking in the natural beauty. The damage done by the Summit fire can make the area more susceptible to mudslides, debris flow in the waterways and flash flooding. Trees already damaged by fire can come down easier once the ground is saturated with rain water.

Santa Cruz County Public Works held departmental meetings over the past two weeks to coordinate efforts with CAL FIRE and the local Office of Emergency Services.

"So we can, with the county, carefully monitor streams, monitor precipitation, be prepared in case there are some debris flows," Santa Cruz County Public Information Officer Chris Hirsch said.

Heavy duty equipment has been brought to the CAL FIRE station in Corralitos because of the expected rain.

Preventative measures were also put in place over the summer.

"They've been up here with heavy equipment removing certain areas of debris from drainages so it can create a steady even flow rather than clogging up, releasing and creating a surge of water," CAL FIRE spokesperson John Peery said.

Wolver is more worried about trees crashing down across access roads, keeping him and his wife trapped in his home for days; but he says despite the danger, it is better than the alternative.

"We've been through fire earthquakes and floods and we're still here and this is better living in LA, where I came from," Wolver said.

Reverse 911 phone calls used during the Summit fire are also on standby over the next few days. It is another tool the county can use to notify people of mudslides or flooding.


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