Second slide hits Santa Cruz Mountains

March 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The weather is about to get worse again, which is exactly what they do not need in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In Scotts Valley a huge rockslide has cut off dozens of people who cannot easily get in and out of their neighborhood and another slide occurred Wednesday in the Mt. Hermon community in Felton.

No one there was surprised to see a mountain of mud spilled onto Conference Drive. The mudslide brought down power lines and even part of a fence. Contractors have the hillside stabilized and expect to have the road cleared by Friday.

"It's been raining pretty hard, you know, it's consistent. It keeps coming down and then last night I thought, something was going to go," said Mt. Hermon resident Ed Borowiec.

"Pretty intense rain, soil saturated and liquefies and then it just doesn't take much for it to go," said Sean McFely from Mt. Hermon Operational Services.

Scotts Valley Rockslide

Sheriff's Command Post for Nelson Road residents: 1-831-335-8053

Late Wednesday afternoon a meeting was held at the fire department in Scotts Valley between the county and the people who live in the 33 homes that have been cut off by a rockslide. There is some progress, but with more rain to come and the rockslide still unstable, it could take a while before crews can start clearing the road.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains above Scotts Valley, they measured progress not in terms of moving the mountain or rocks, but around it.

There is a new alternate route, a footpath that became a road on Tuesday night and a muddy bog by Wednesday. It remains the only way in or out of the hamlet that residents call "Eclectia" which stands for an eclectic group of people. But the residents are also resilient, optimistic, and pro-active.

They're trying to get everything done, in a time when a massive rockslide has the county and the residents at its mercy. Clearing will take weeks and the county cannot begin that work until the mass stabilizes, but county geologists say that hasn't happened, yet.

"And there are parts of the road that haven't fallen yet, but that could fall," said resident Joy Williams.

But they're seeing progress. Late Wednesday afternoon, PG&E crews more or less willed one of their trucks through the muck to deliver a pole that could restore power by Wednesday evening. Also on Wednesday, residents and the county signed an agreement to build a temporary bridge and bypass.

"They want to build one that will handle fire trucks, gravel trucks, propane trucks, etc.," said resident Bob Orser.

The proposed bridge would run from the paved road, across the creek, and down to the recently cleared road. It is good news in a hearty community that has struggled these past few days and will for a while longer, but with good humor.

"It's open ended at this point," said Williams.

It is ironic that the residents moved into the neighborhood because some of them say they like the privacy; now all of a sudden, the mountain comes down and they're cut off, and all of a sudden, here comes the rest of the world in the form of the media, and they're not getting any privacy at all. Regardless, they're all very good-natured about it.

The county is hoping to work on the temporary road on Thursday and plans to put in gravel, rocks, and cloth underneath to shore it up and stabilize it to let some of those trucks to get in.

The next community meeting will be on Tuesday at the Scotts Valley Fire Department. Geologists are also supposed to be there to answer questions.


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