Santa Cruz communities prepare for upcoming storm

Communities in the Santa Cruz mountains are expected to be among the hardest hit during this weekend’s storm.

With several inches of rain forecast to fall there, storm preparations were well underway on Friday, including in Felton, which saw severe flooding last winter.

"I’m kind of battening down the hatches," said Jasmine Chaudhary, who was forced to evacuate her home in 2023 when a series of atmospheric river systems hit the area, causing widespread flooding, mudslides, and downed trees. "So far the winter has been pretty mild, but last year was horrendous."

Back-to-back severe storms are not forecast this time around, but Chaudhary said she still was not planning to stick around. 

"I’m probably going to get out [Saturday] in anticipation of the storm," said Chaudhary.

"It’s really no joke," said Boulder Creek resident Doug Underhill, who was stocking up on the essentials, but planned to stick out the storm for now. 

"For the most part, people are used to it, that have lived here, but it’s a real wake-up call for the people who are new to the community…there’s a lot of one-way roads that are in and out of these neighborhoods…one tree goes down, that could take them 48 hours to get to," Underhill said.

Newcomers to the region and weekend visitors are some of the people Felton Fire Capt. Ian Jones said he was most worried about right now, particularly when it comes to flooded roadways.

"It takes very little water to make a car float, so it only takes a couple of inches of water to make a car lose its traction and move around on the roads," said Jones.

Felton Fire is also monitoring the height of the San Lorenzo River, which overtopped its banks last Winter. Jones said additional fire crews were on standby for the weather, including swift water rescue teams.

"We advise stay away from the river banks, stay away from the edges of the river…you know the river is moving a lot faster than you think," said Jones. "Again that high ground saturation, it means it’s kind of easy to slip and fall, and we don’t want you slipping into the river."

Meantime, non-profit Mountain Community Resources said it was making sure that cost was not a barrier to being prepared for the storm. 

The non-profit is handing out free supply kits to help ensure that people in the community have what they need ahead of the rain.