Santa Cruz County avoids major storm damage, evacuation orders still in effect

ByAnser Hassan, Kris Reyes KGO logo
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Santa Cruz Co. avoids major damage, evacuation orders still stand
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Tuesday night's massive storm didn't cause the potentially massive damage many officials were fearing in Santa Cruz County but evacuation orders are still in effect as additional showers are forecasted Wednesday night.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Tuesday night's massive storm didn't cause the potentially massive damage many officials were fearing in Santa Cruz County.

"The storm shifted prior to last night, and that cut our rainfall totals about in half," says Jason Hoppin, Communications Managers for Santa Cruz County.

RELATED: Strongest storm of season triggers evacuations, flooding and power outages in Bay Area

Hoppin says initial reports suggested the county got three to five inches of rain, much less than the eight to 12 inches it was anticipating.

A drive through parts of the Santa Cruz Mountain town of Felton on Wednesday morning showed no signs of any major damage due to the rain.

There were down trees along some hills, and crews were out clearing some debris on city streets. But no reports of mudslides, which was the big concern heading into the storm.

Residents felt more relief, a feeling that they dodged a bullet.

VIDEO: Santa Cruz Co. residents relieved after no major storm damage

A Boulder Creek resident took a picture showing their rain gauge at just under four inches and their home safe.

Other residents who stayed behind, were thankful the storm didn't live up to expectations.

"I drive around a couple times a day just looking at the creeks and rivers and seeing how they are, they're not bad compared to what we've seen in big storms," said Gregg Schlaman.

Downtown Boulder Creek was pretty quiet with many residents following evacuation orders. Schlaman said most of the rain happened overnight and slowed down during the day.

"I stayed up till past midnight, went to bed then I woke up and it was raining cats and dogs, it's been awhile since we had a rainstorm that good," added Schlaman.

Evacuation orders were issued due to the threats of flooding and potentially deadly mudslides along the hills that burned in last fall's CZU Lightning Complex Fire.

In a Wednesday briefing, Santa Cruz County officials say they are continuing to uphold the evacuation orders and warnings indefinitely. Santa Cruz Co. Chief Deputy Chris Clark said they were hoping to lift the orders on Wednesday, but due to more thunderstorms, the are holding off and advising residents to stay out of the area. The orders are dependent on the weather and are optimistic to lift the evacuations by Thursday. Watch the full briefing here.

See all evacuations here.

EVACUATIONS: 5,000 residents ordered to evacuate Santa Cruz Mountains due to debris flow risk

"The debris flow risk that we were really worried about was overnight, last night, and it does not appear to have occurred. So, that's good news," explains Hoppin.

It is good news for residents as well, many of whom are still recovering from the wildfires.

"Yeah it is cause, everybody was like, 'There's going to be a huge storm!' I don't know, it didn't wake me up in the night," says Gwen Cuccia, a Scotts Valley resident.

SNOW: Dangerous storm could dump 7 feet of snow, bring 100 mph wind gusts to Sierra Nevada

Signs were posted throughout the county warning residents to evacuate, although Hoppin thinks maybe only 25% did evacuate.

He says he is just thankful that residents are safe.

"This is the biggest storm we've had since the fires were put out," says Hoppin. "We're on uncharted territory as far as this threat to the residents. But so far, so good. We are very happy with the way things out."

There are road closures in the county and impacted areas can be found here.

Watch the latest AccuWeather forecast and take a look at recent weather stories and videos.