North Bay firefighters warn of potential mudslides near burn scars ahead of Bay Area storm

During a storm last year, an entire neighborhood in Santa Rosa flooded and nearly 100 residents had to be evacuated.

Liz Kreutz Image
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Storm: Firefighters warn of mudslides near burn scars in North Bay
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Santa Rosa fire is warning about an increased risk of mudslides and debris flow in areas around the Glass Fire burn scars ahead of the Bay Area storm.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Rosa Fire Department is warning about an increased risk of mudslides and debris flow in areas around the 2020 Glass Fire burn scars ahead of the storm on Thursday.

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"Our concern is that the hills above Santa Rosa haven't regrown the way that they should, and they're not as receptive to water, meaning the water has the potential to sheet off the hill much quicker than it typically would, because it is a burn scar," Santa Rosa Division Chief Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal told ABC7 News. "Which then could impact our water ways."

That's what happened during a storm last year. An entire neighborhood in Santa Rosa flooded and nearly 100 residents had to be evacuated by Santa Rosa fire and sheriff's department vehicles - and some even by boat.

VIDEO: Santa Rosa residents describe scary moments in neighborhood where 95 homes were evacuated

"Some of the rain fall we had off of our hills, specifically the Glass Fire burn scar, allowed a lot of water to flow much more than we anticipated, and that led to specific flooding within our community last year, and boats like this were deployed," Lowenthal explained.

He said the department has the inflatable rescue boat ready and on standby if that happens again.

"For us, that shows the potential is around here," Lowenthal said of the incident last year.

He said the city is offering sandbags. They're also asking residents to clean up any leaves outside their homes.

That's exactly what east Santa Rosa resident Robert Deschler was seen doing outside his home Wednesday afternoon.

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"I'm just cleaning up the leaves because the street sweeper came by and did not pick up all the leaves, so I want to make sure it doesn't get into the gutters and potentially plug up the drain, and flood the streets and homes," Deschler explained.

In San Rafael, the police department is also asking residents to prepare and reminding people of the flooding from a storm last October.

"Last year, San Rafael experienced quite the flooding in downtown San Rafael," San Rafael PD Lt. Scott Eberle told ABC7 News. "This year we don't anticipate the storm to bring that sort of floods."

"The best thing people can do right now is to make sure all their equipment on their vehicles are in order - headlights, windshield wipes, their turn signals, anything like that that would indicate safety," Eberle added.

In Santa Rosa, Lowenthal said the fire department is remaining in close contact with the National Weather Service. As of early evening on Wednesday, they anticipated the most rain to come between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Thursday. A flash flood warning for the burn scars was not in effect, although Lowenthall said it is still a concern and the department is monitoring and will be ready to staff up if needed.

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