Santa Cruz Co. residents prep for storms, hoping to avoid whirlwind damage from last winter

Lauren Martinez Image
Friday, December 15, 2023
Santa Cruz Co. residents prep for winter season, storms
With winter approaching, Santa Cruz mountains residents are doing everything they can now to avoid the whirlwind storm damage from earlier this year.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- With the official start of winter coming soon, some in the Bay Area are doing everything they can now to avoid the whirlwind damage from the start of the year.

Shandra Hunt is giving us a virtual tour of her small farm in Boulder Creek.

Hunt and her husband own Hillhouse Farm on a quarter of an acre.

They started making rain preparations in September.

"I feel confident we're more prepared this year. We really paid attention to what happened last year and where the damage was and where the water went," Hunt said.

Last winter, the Santa Cruz mountains were inundated with nonstop storms.

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Following months of storm-induced erosion, a Santa Cruz Mountains couple's house now stands on the edge above a creek.

"It literally picked up that entire work tent with weights on it and moved it like it was nothing," Hunt said.

Hunt lost squash and flower beds to flooding which put the farm months behind schedule.

"We couldn't even plant in this until about June," Hunt said.

This year, Hunt installed more mesh tubes and wattles to redirect water. She also planted a type of radish to help break up the clay soil for water infiltration.

"A lot of the plants we have in now, hopefully they'll be food. But in reality we just wanted something in the ground to hopefully have that root structure to help hold the soil," Hunt said.

Hunt said she appreciates the community of farmers she shares tips and information with.

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"You're just always learning basically when you're farming, no matter how long you've done it for," Hunt said.

From storm damage to wildfires, Santa Cruz County has been accumulating repair costs.

Public information officer Jason Hoppin said the county has had seven federally declared disasters since 2017.

"We're still working on stuff from 2017 so we've got about $215 million in claims, most of which has not yet been paid by FEMA. We did $75 million worth of work from this last winter alone," Hoppin said.

One major project included repairing a massive culvert that was completely washed out in Soquel.

Four-hundred residents were briefly stranded.

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"Sometime early next year, we should finish up the permanent repair so that's what I mean with these things layering on top of each other; we're just now finishing with that and we're going into another winter," Hoppin said.

Hoppin said the county switches over to winter preparation in mid-October.

Since that they've been doing work on making sure there's no log jams and clearing out excess vegetation.

Hoppin encourages residents to clear gutters and fix any leaky roofs at this time. He urges anyone to sign for emergency alerts at

"So we'll have to see what this winter holds for us. We're crossing our fingers that it stays light but of course, that is not what a lot of people are telling us at this moment," Hoppin said.

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