SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Santa Cruz County officials issued evacuation warnings for 21 zones due to concerns that burnt trees and debris stretching across swaths of the region from last year's CZU wildfire could give way during Sunday's big rainstorm to mudslides, debris flows and toppled trees.
"It's going to be a bit scary due to the fires we had last year. We still are going to be experiencing some mud flows and slides. and you know everyone's got to be prepared for that," said Derek Bravo, a Boulder Creek resident.
Many people in Boulder Creek were preparing Friday, by getting groceries, gas, and other essentials ahead of the storm.
"Definitely fuel for the generators because loss of power is always an issue in the mountains," said Bravo.
Mark Bingham, Chief of the Boulder Creek Fire Protection District says his crews are glad to see the rain but will be monitoring now for the dangers the rain can bring.
"We're concerned the burn scar may create an issue for us, with the heavy rainfall that we might see a heavy rainfall that we may actually see some problem for us mud flow or debris flow," said Bingham.
San Mateo County Fire/CAL FIRE Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Cox says CAL FIRE does assessments after every wildfire in Northern California to evaluate the danger of debris flow.
"Go in with geologists, and ecologists, and hydrologists and figure out what the most vulnerable areas are of the burn scar. That includes the severity of how the soil is burned, how stable the watersheds are," said Cox.
Santa Cruz County officials say they plan to have extra staff available this weekend.
Nicole Coburn, the Assistant Administrative Officer for Santa Cruz County, says residents should sign up for the county's "Code Red" reverse 9-1-1 calls to get alerts and also check the county's website to determine what evacuation zone they live in. Coburn says that's because the rainstorm could threaten hundreds of households in high-risk areas
"We're planning through our emergency operations center to prepare in the event that we need to order evacuations," said Coburn.
"The fire got. as the crow flies, about a quarter mile from us so there's definitely a lot of burn behind us," said Rick Scott of Boulder Creek, "I think a lot of people have a lot of anxiety because it seems like it moves from one problem to another problem so it's like you don't get a break."
Many hope this weekend the rain comes...but slowly.
"I love every drop as long as it comes in the right way. Not all at once," said Steve Maurer, a longtime Boulder Creek resident, who adds that the community has become close-knit in weathering each tragedy together, "There's a great community spirit here we support each other. There's tool sharing. When there was no coffee shop, we set up a stand for free coffee just for the hell of it."
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.