Evacuation warnings issued in Santa Cruz County

Heavy rainfall and the threat to public safety have prompted evacuation warnings for several thousand homes in Santa Cruz County Monday night.

A spokesman for the county estimated that 3,500 homes were under an evacuation warning, meaning residents need to be prepared to leave.  And most of the homes are in Boulder Creek.

The rainfall has been steady and heavy at times.

It caused flooding and other hazardous conditions.

"I'm concerned with the roads because I work in Saratoga at West Valley (College) so I have to go over Highway 9 to get there tomorrow," said Boulder Creek resident Gary Fisher.  

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"Yeah  I'm worried," said Lia Holden, "It's been a bit blustery. I was able to work on and off because the internet's been in and out."  

 The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office issued evacuation warnings that included the San Lorenzo Valley and CZU  burn scar area.

The big concern is debris flow.

"We did actually have a couple of debris flows today that we saw. Neither of those had large impacts on any community or residents," said Fire Chief Mark Bingham with the Boulder Creek Fire Protection District.

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Debris flows are fast-moving masses of mud, rocks, boulders, and trees.

"It can move houses like they're just little toys and it can push cars," said Bingham, who urged people who live in the burn areas to be extra alert. 

"They need to be listening to those noises: the snapping of trees, the falling of trees, loud rushing, whishing sound, boulders and rocks clicking together. Anything out of the norm would potentially be a debris flow," said Bingham.

At Wild Roots Market on Highway 9, the manager said water, firewood, and other essentials are popular as people stock up.

"Today, we decided to close a bit early because of the flash flood warning and just wanted to make sure our employees can get home safely as well. But we've had a nice constant flow today, so we're thankful we could be open for the community," said manager Vanessa Russo.

Residents said they're used to having heavy rains in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

"I'm kind of a person who rolls with the punches. I'll take it as it comes," said Holden. 

The manager at Wild Roots said depending on the weather, she may close the store early again Tuesday.

A supervisor at Boulder Creek Pizza & Pub said he's prepared to be closed if and when a mandatory evacuation order is issued.