Storm Chaos Continues In California
Yet another round of heavy rains has hit some of California’s most beleaguered spots in storm-ridden Santa Cruz County, which has been under extreme duress over the past several weeks.
Several creeks and rivers in the Santa Cruz area became flooded once more due to rains and mountain runoff, including the Corralitos Creek just north of Watsonville, which left businesses surrounded by water and threatened local homes. Local officials once again warned families around the area to evacuate the area. The Soquel Creek also became swollen Saturday, sending water pounding into the side of homes just outside Capitola, with runoff from the Santa Cruz Mountains quickly going downhill.
In the midst of the latest flooding, rescue crews were called to the Scotts Valley area of the county, after a driver of a car became stuck in high waters. Local resident Brian Thom told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell that firefighters were able to get both the driver and a passenger to safety.
“There was a lot of commotion … (the flooding) really is strong, don’t try to drive across stuff if you have any question,” Thom said.
Families in the Felton Grove neighborhood, which was one of the neighborhoods especially slammed by rains over the past week, were told yet again to evacuate, as downed trees and piles of debris ran down the San Lorenzo River. Video captured of the neighborhood saw entire streets flooded out, as waters rose to the top of mailboxes outside homes.
Most of the evacuation orders made Saturday were eventually downgraded to evacuation warnings, including in Soquel and Watsonville.
Authorities in the Bay Area county advised people to be careful over the next several days, as risks remain of more potential flooding and mudslides, as well as trees that can come down without warning. Further south, in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles County, this threat came to pass, as an oak tree fell during the nighttime hours Saturday, crushing a vehicle and blocking off an entire street.
Santa Cruz County was just one of the California counties that experienced flooding issues on Saturday. According to the sheriff in Napa County, approximately 130 miles north of Santa Cruz, multiple areas were flooded out during the morning hours. In the state’s capitol region of Sacramento County, an evacuation order was put into immediate effect in the late afternoon for the Wilton area, with residents asked to leave due to rising levels of the Cosumnes River.
Saturday’s active severe weather was another hit to a state that has been battered since before the New Year’s holiday. The winter storms have caused at least 19 storm-related deaths to date, with California Gov. Gavin Newsom noting that the storms had taken “more lives than wildfire in the past two years combined.” Deaths were reported in 10 different counties, including Santa Cruz, where 72-year-old Gary Yules was killed by a falling cypress tree on Dec. 31, 2022.
In response to the series of storms, President Joe Biden approved the state’s major disaster declaration request for recovery efforts, approving federal allocations to individuals impacted by storms in Sacramento, Santa Cruz and Merced counties.
The assistance can include grants for temporary housing, home repairs and loans to cover uninsured property losses. The declaration approval gives individuals and businesses more help to recover from the effects of the disaster, and also provides assistance to local governments in the impacted counties.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.