Remnants of January's storms still visible in Felton as residents prepare for atmospheric river

Zach Fuentes Image
Friday, March 10, 2023
Felton residents preparing for more rain, flooding
Those living near the San Lorenzo River are bracing for another atmospheric after only just recently cleaning up from January's storms.

FELTON, Calif. (KGO) -- In the Santa Cruz Mountains residents have been bracing themselves for the next big storm. Many of them say they have only recently recovered from the January atmospheric river.

By Thursday afternoon Santa Cruz County officials had issued evacuation warnings in more than a dozen different areas throughout the county.

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Some of those spots are the same ones that got hit the hardest back in January.

Homeowners in Felton have been hammered by the constant stream of storms that's hit Santa Cruz County since the start of the year. Roads and homes were flooded by the nearby San Lorenzo River.

"The last flood we had was seven years ago," resident Howard Burman said of conditions his neighborhood had seen prior to January, "And this year now, several floods which are extremely unusual."

Much of the mud that inundated homes and property after January's atmospheric river still sits in piles on the street.

The clean-up for some folks since then has only just wrapped up.

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"We've been working every week, every week when we can since then," resident Tom Fredericks said. "It's just starting right now to feel like it was before the storms. So this is kind of discouraging to be facing it all over again."

Burman, who ABC7 first visited following the storm in January, has lived in his home for 14 years.

He says the last atmospheric river was more brutal than he could have imagined and taught him some hard lessons.

"We raised everything in preparation for the flood, but we didn't raise them high enough, the flood was a lot higher," he said. "The water was higher than we had anticipated, so we lost some things, a freezer, a generator."

In a Wednesday briefing to the community, Santa Cruz County officials say they continue to prepare for outcomes similar to what was seen in January.

"We're not out of the woods with the winter storms," Dave Reid, Director of the County's Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience said. "And this is a big one, we're looking at this as a big event."

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Even prior to alerts with evacuation info sent out Thursday, County officials have told residents in some of the problem areas to make preparations to leave.

Information some, like Burman are willing to take.

"We're going to leave tonight," he said. "I'm staying elsewhere, come back tomorrow."

Others like Tom Fredericks say they're tired of dealing with storm impacts and are prepared to ride this one out at home.

"I'm past the burnout part," Fredericks said. "I'm in the acceptance part."

County officials encourage residents to sign up for reverse 911 calls.

You can do that and find out more critical information here.

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