Santa Cruz County debris flow news conference, Jan. 25, 2021
10:31PM Jan 25, 2021
Okay, perfect. Well, hi, my name is Chris Clark. I'm a chief deputy here at the sheriff's office. And he is the commander with our unified command team with the handling the debris flow, preparation, and possible event that we may experience as we go into this week. So what I thought I'd do is I just touch on a few things. One is, you know, our plan and what's happening now, I'll touch on messaging, and then I'll touch on a little bit about the weather about kind of what, what what potentially to expect and what we're expecting as we go through the week. And then finally, kind of just just some things to pay attention to. And and some, in basically give you an idea of hopefully when people might be able to return home. So you know, this debris flow planning is something that's been in process between us and the fire districts since the CCU lightning complex fire ended. It was something that, you know, that we were concerned about, we created plans regarding what potentially could happen in order to keep everyone in the San Lorenzo Valley and our North Coast and all the areas that are affected by the debris flow, Hazard areas that were identified to keep those people safe. And so messaging was a key component of that we did a number of town halls zone, we were using the same zone haven platform for for evacuation orders, notices. And we'll use the same when it comes to repopulation, much like we did during the CCU lightning complex fire. And so that no your zone
slogan that you heard through Cz you same as now. And so as in if you're in one of those areas, then you know what I'm talking about. And so and so we've got, you know, a bunch of we've done a lot of messaging. So I mentioned town halls, if you google Santa Cruz County debris flow, you'll notice that on the county's website, there's a lot of resources, there's an actual map, you see, if you Google that is that zone haven map. And then you can go specifically to the zone haven map, at community dot zone haven.com. So a lot of information there. We went door to door throughout, in addition to the town halls, we we sent out mailers to people that were in the affected area. We've gone door to door throughout that that area that was a that happened a couple months ago, that was members of our community emergency response team, our search and rescue team and our sheriff's office. So we went door to door letting people know, hey, that you you're located in an evacuation area, this could be a possibility if we if we see rain that meets a certain threshold. And again, that threshold we were talking about as the weather service and geologies advise This was point three inches in 15 minutes, point five inches of rain and a half hour upwards of point seven in an hour. And what you're going to hear me say in a minute is is that these thresholds, we're going to meet him and and not only we're going to meet him, there's a whole nother component of this storm, that frankly, really concerns me, and concerns all of us that are involved in this throughout the county, and that's the wind and we're gonna see a really high degree of wind. When this storm starts coming towards us, it should hit us about Tuesday afternoon, late Tuesday, early Tuesday evening. And it's kind of going to go through it's going to intensify into Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. And like I said a lot of rain meeting those thresholds and then a lot of wind and potentially gusting to 5060 miles miles an hour on the ridges in the summit there in the San Lorenzo Valley. So a lot of high wind in we saw wind just this last week, which dropped a number of power lines. And so it really caught just last week caused a huge disruption this week will be very much the same. And if you're in that area, I feel bad for you. Because likely people are going to lose power things are going to be uncomfortable up there. And then in some areas, you got a lot of fire damage trees that could come down. And so it this is this is a storm that definitely that we were hoping we wouldn't see. But we're potentially going to see it as we go into this week. So in making sure that you know it that you're you're you're being as safe as you can I couldn't stress more the need to follow our the evacuation order that we put out this morning. And so as many of you know, we issued an evacuation warning yesterday, we met with weather yesterday morning, our decision team and we heard that there was no change in the weather, it was likely just as bad as it was, as we'd heard, you know, a couple of days prior. And so we wanted to give you as much time is possible, the public that lives in these areas to make preparations to leave. And so the warning went out yesterday. And so how many people are we talking about potentially about 2800 2800 structures and about 5000 people potentially affected by the by the evacuation order that we put out this morning. And so what our deputies are doing right now, we went door to door yesterday in very specific high risk areas. And then we're going door to door again today. We launched this evacuation or just like during the fire, our deputies are going, we've got we've got 31 deputies in the field right now that are going to go door to door throughout the entire day throughout all those areas that are under an evacuation order, they're going to knock on the door, and they're going to ask you to leave. And, and I would really strongly encourage you to take that to take that advice and, and make plans to stay elsewhere. Much like we had mentioned in in prior town halls and some of the messages that we put out I, I you know, I feel like you're going to you know, you'll be you'll be safer elsewhere. And then it'll give you a chance to, you know, you'll be able to come back once this once this passes us. But there's this, you know, we don't know yet how this water and what's going to happen in the valley. And so there could be there could be road blockages, there could be down lines. And there could be a debris, there could be debris flow in the areas that are identified. And if that happens, not only is it unsafe for you, but it's going to make it hard for you to get in and out. And it could strand you and and then in terms of when you know, so when could all that be cleaned up and and is early as we could tell us potentially this weekend, because obviously we have to let this storm get behind us, for our Public Works crews. And you're going to hear Matt Machado who runs our public works here shortly. There's a lot of work to be done there. And they may not be able to get to that until this weekend when the rain and a lot of the debris flow hazard is behind us. And that's in addition to and that's in addition to pg&e, and potential work that they're doing. So as I mentioned right now, if you go to if you go to the Google Santa Cruz County debris, Flurry, go to community dot zone haven calm, you'll see the areas as evacuation areas lit up red, those are the areas you can punch in your address and find specifically where you are. Those areas are lit up red, you're under an evacuation order, and we're asking you to leave for for your safety. And so and then following today. So as I mentioned, 31 deputies doing that now. And then every 12 hours after that after, after we get done today, every every 12 hours, we're going to have 10 deputies that are going to be in the valley, from the north coast to Boulder Creek, Brookdale. Felton will be in those areas. So 10 deputies every 12 hours there. And so in terms of when you know, when a question that I feel like somebody might ask is when when, when would I be able to come home and so that that really is going to depend on what we see this week. And I would say, you know, it could be after it could be this weekend. I mean, it just depends on what happens with the weather. But you know, it could be, it could be this weekend, or it could be a little further out than that, depending on how bad the situation is there. And so again, just just in just to kind of wrap up, I can't stress enough how important it is to heed the evacuation warning. You know, if something bad happens, despite all of our best effort and want to help you, we just might not be able to get in there to do that, because the conditions are so bad. So just even our ability to help, could be could be extremely hampered if you decided to stay and found yourself in a difficult position. So I just encourage you to encourage you to leave. And then lastly, just continue to stay apprised of what's going on. I mean, you could lose power up there. And that could that could definitely. And we understand like definitely interfere with your ability to get information. So that's right, yeah. And I think it's more important to leave than stay and so, but nonetheless, monitoring, zoning, even, as I mentioned, monitoring social media and monitoring the National Weather Service, and we'll be continuing to put out information as we go along. Thank you.
Thank you, Chief Deputy Clark. She Florida Do you have anything to add?
Um, yeah, Chief Clark, you know, said really covered a lot of it. But I just want to reinforce to the public, that if you haven't already signed up for Code Red, which is our county's reverse 911. Please go to sc ar 911 dot org. That's SC ar 911 dot org, and register for code read so that you can get these updates and continue to be kept up to date. And then really, the most up to date information will also be available at community dot zone haven.com, which is the application that we're using to keep you informed of the changing environment as it relates to evacuations. And then as we saw in the storm, last week, the winds are really playing a big factor in our ability to communicate with the public. We saw the power outages that occurred which also affected all the communication capabilities through taking down internet providers such as xfinity as well as telephone in the valley and as well as the north coast of the county. So it's really important that everybody heed these warnings now, because we will not be able to message out later on due to impacts of the storm. So we've been working really hard with our cooperating agencies in in the valley, they've been loman Boulder Creek and Felton fire districts along with the County Fire Department and Cal Fire with the sheriff's department. And many, many people within the county organization geologists to really prepare for this event to occur. So a lot of works went in here to protect the public. And we just asked you to heed these warnings. And get out of the way these because you will not hear a debris flow when it occurs. If you hear it, it's too late. And that's all I have to add.
Thank you, Chief Larkin. As both the previous speakers mentioned, in addition to the rainfall, one of the concerning things about this storm is the wind. And I think Matt Machado is on the line. Matt, can you speak a little bit about what you're looking? You're looking out for from a wind standpoint and how that might affect road access?
Yeah, thank you, Jason. And good morning, everybody. So the key for us is going to be readiness. Because we know that the winds coming and we know the number of calls are going to escalate dramatically. And the number of response teams that we'll need is going to really increase during this storm because of that wind. We have state some equipment up in the mountains, we have some heavy equipment up in the Bonny doon area and in the swan area. So we can respond to immediate issues as needed. We also are going to be managing our road closure map actively. And so we can communicate with our fire in law and other partners about the status of our roads. today. All roads are open, we're ready today. And then finally, we are planning to activate our departmental Operations Center and staff up our dispatch center. And so part of our preparedness is being able to manage a high number of calls and dispatch those calls out to field crews so that we can respond to those issues due to small cleanups as we can barricade out the roads that we have to close, and just ensure that the community knows the conditions of the roads. And so our key is, is communicating out as much and often as we can. Finally, for non emergency calls, or 24 hour dispatches open, and I'm going to share that phone number, it's 831-477-3999 non emergency calls can go to our 24 dispatch center. And we can we can put work orders out for those areas that we can respond to. So thank you, Jason. And I can answer any questions.
Thank you, man. I just want to mention before we go to questions that we have setting up three temporary evacuation points, these are not evacuation centers, we're not doing congregate shelter with COVID. So these are at San Lorenzo Valley High School, Scotts Valley Community Center and Pacific Elementary School in Davenport. You can access refreshments information, Red Cross will be there, there's charging stations, there's bathrooms, so we encourage anyone that needs a place to go to visit one of these senators. We've also set up a call center for people who have questions. It's 831-454-2181. And with that, I'm going to go to Paul Rogers. Paul, you should be able to unmute yourself and go ahead and ask a question.
Thanks very much. I wondered if a couple of things if you guys could clarify some of the numbers, you mentioned that you were expecting about 5000 people to be affected? Is that 5000 people in the evacuation order areas? Or is that in all the areas, the warning areas and the order areas? And so if you could clarify how many are in each? And then second. I'm just wondering, you know, how long in your experience it's been, since we've had a mudslide risk in the Santa Cruz Mountains like this. Thanks.
Yeah, and I don't know if you want to touch on touch on that. I know there's you had specifics, but yeah, it's not a differentiation.
I can I can. Yeah, I can speak to the numbers. So the numbers that were given the approximate 5000 population are just the zones that are affected in the evacuation order. Those do not accompany those in the warning. So that's around just under 5000 residents that would be affected due to the evacuation order.
And do you know how many are affected in the warning
area? I do not have that number offhand. But I will research that and get back to you.
Thanks. And then the second part about how long it's been since we've had mudslide risk like this.
Mad I don't know. Do you have any historical knowledge I I
don't recall. I think this is a really unique situation. I think You know, with this type of rain event and, and winds, and with the recent fire, I think it's a it's a one off for sure. I mean, we certainly have risk every season with mud flows, because of the geology and nature of our mountains. And we have had history, you know, in the 80s, and so on, there's been a number of pretty significant disasters, but I think this one is, is is even more unique than that because of the the large burn scars. So I think it's a one off.
Thanks. Let's go to Tulsi from lookout Santa Cruz.
Yeah, hi. So I had two questions as well. The first one being. Jason, you mentioned that there will be there won't be congregate shelters and place for people who are evacuating because of COVID. So what what will be in place for the people that need places to stay at hotels are filled up? What's going to happen there? And then the second question is going to be is there going to be a centralized place where we can find road closures as they're being updated for people who might be trying to leave after the fact. And we want to, you know, keep them informed?
Sure. So one of the unique things about a debris flow event is these are preventative, this is not a declared disaster. So some of the resources that would normally be available are not available to us. So we are encouraging as many people as possible to locate friends and family. If you have an aunt or uncle down by Twin Lakes or somewhere safer out of the out of harm's way to hit them up and see if you can stay there for a couple days. Red Cross is also at the temporary evacuation points to connect people with temporary shelter if they do not have access to temporary shelter. And I believe we're we're going are planning on allowing people to sleep in their cars overnight at those points if they need to. Sorry, I totally had one other question. What was it?
It was about road closures? And will there be a database or something like that?
Yeah. So we do have a site that covers roads by the county for SCC road. closure.org is I think that's right, Matt. It's correct. That has pretty current status of our local road system. And people should bookmark that and pay attention to it, especially during storms.
Do I'm going to leave my hand up so that I can come back around? I have more questions,
no problem. Let's go to Hannah Hagerman from Santa Cruz Seto.
And my question is about warnings versus orders. And, Chief Larkin, you were saying earlier that people should heed these warnings now, because there may be impacts from the storm that produce challenges to reach people. But my question is, I mean, how soon will will these warnings potentially be upgraded to orders or should people heed warnings now, even if they're not evacuation orders.
So yeah, so the evacuation orders have already went out. So as part of our planning process, it was identified that we would put the orders in place 24 hours in advance of the event, because as we said, if we waited too long, folks would not have the opportunity to get out. So the orders that have went into place in the high high risk areas have already went out. So the public is being advised right now by the sheriff's deputies out there doing door to door notifications, as well as press releases reverse nine one ones, and also the zone haven community maps have all been updated with this information. So the areas that are still in an evacuation warning is just that they're still in a warning, people need to be ready to go in the event that something more catastrophic occurs. And then orders would be issued at that point, once we had greater intel on the dangers that may exist in those areas that are still in a warning. So when we say he then information, those those folks need to know that once that rain starts, it could be matter of minutes or shorter timeframes, that these debris flows could be triggered based on those rain quantities and thresholds that are going to be met in the upcoming storm.
Right. Thank you, Jesse. Gary, do you have a question? Go ahead and unmute yourself and ask the question.
Hey, thanks. I heard and I think it was the sheriff's department say that you're going to have 10 deputies go out every 12 hours, I guess starting tomorrow. And I'm just wondering, are they going out to look for people who are in trouble? Are they going out to make sure the evacuation order is being adhered to what is the purpose of the extra 10 that are going to be going out every 12 hours.
Yeah, yeah, Jesse basically, it's a, it's a little bit of a combination of all of it. So we're gonna be there potentially, I mean, obviously, once it starts pouring down rain, you know, we're going to be mindful because we obviously don't want to place ourselves potentially in a in a life life endangering situation. But nonetheless, we are there to support the operation in total and and then support fire in their in their rescue efforts if and when network to that were to occur. So it's a presence up there to to keep a presence, maintain a presence and then if if we're needed, then we'll evaluate that and then obviously, we'll have looting suppression teams that are going to be out there tonight, and through and through tomorrow that have a presence throughout this event. So hopefully that answers your question.
Thank you for your question. Paul Rogers, your hands still up.
Um, you know, I just wondered if you could maybe post or go over one more time, where those evacuation will come, you know, evacuation centers or whatever you want to call them, where those are, and then what hours they're going to be open. Sure.
We give out the addresses on those. So the we have one located at San Lorenzo Valley High School that is 7105. Highway nine. One is at the Scotts Valley Community Center that is 360 Kings village road in Scotts Valley. And one is at Pacific Elementary School, which is on 50 ocean street in Davenport. I believe those are going to be 24 hour operations that may be a skeleton crew overnight, but they're going to be open here. I know staff are they're setting up right now. They should be open here shortly. We actually have a website for these to just go to Santa Cruz county.us slash fire recovery slash temporary evacuation points dot ASP x and you can get some more information on those tolsey go ahead and ask another question.
Thank you. So my two questions this time around are one will there be? Is there like a radio channel or something like that will be set up to get people information once power goes out? And then too. I know, you know from our reporting last week, pg&e makes its own decisions on public safety shut offs. But Are y'all working? Is anyone in the county working with pg&e to preemptively do these or is there? I mean, you know, last time, there was a lot of wind damage, we're expecting a lot of wind damage this time around. And with potential debris flow, it would be even harder to fix. So is there anything that y'all can speak to about that?
I might ask Chris to jump in here. I know that, you know, this is a rainstorm. So the fire is a little bit less of a concern, but we are working with pg&e. Christie, I mean, to add to that,
no, I think that, you know, if you're talking about pg&e, and how fast things could get repaired. I think even even even Matt will tell you from public works standpoint, it's it's really a it's going to be a wait and see. I mean, the extent we have yet to know the extent of the damage. And so that I think is really the driving. That's why we're driving like heed these warnings, because we just don't know, you know, what's going to happen, frankly, I mean, we know based on the weather models, what we're being told that this is a significant storm, with a lot of wind. And so you know how and when that stuff gets prepared. Really that wind question is, is really a million dollar question. I would say just in the context that we just don't know what's going to happen.
And the other question was about radio.
Jason, or actually, you guys want to touch on that.
I know that National Weather Service has channels that they push out weather information, including their Flash Flood Warning, which is in effect right now. And then we work with local radio stations, obviously to get information out. I believe community bridges is also working directly with Casio for some proactive messaging. So they're going to be talking about temporary evacuation points and evacuation zones and things like that. So people will hear that if they tune into Casio. Jesse, did you have another question?
I did. I did. Sorry. I wanted to know if you could repeat it with a phone number that was given and I was having trouble writing down everything. I'm getting a number and let me see. I have the 8831477 and 3999. That's emergency calls. And then there was another Number that was given, but I didn't I couldn't write that one down.
So we have set up a call center just for information. Looking at where for people that need help looking up their evacuation zone for locations of evacuation, points of evacuation that is 8314 or 542181. And we do have a question from Erica Mahoney. Erica, can
we go off of that? I just clarify that the number I gave out was for non emergency road issues. That's the 4773999. That's a 24 dispatch. But that's for non emergency road conditions.
Okay. And, and the the three centers that were named the one where did I put that? And so we're here somewhere Hold on. San Lorenzo Valley, high school, Scotts Valley Community Center and Pacific Pacific Elementary School. Those are all they're not shelters, what do you call them?
They call it temporary evacuation points.
And there'll be, there'll be resources there for people. I know we're running up against some other meetings. Erica, can you go ahead and ask your question?
Hey, yeah, so super quick. We've gotten used to this, but could you just give some tips for what people should do to get prepared to leave? You know, putting gas in their car, knowing their exit route, things like that? Yeah, I
can touch on that.
you know, right now, now's the time to do all that, you know, you do want to get a bag together, make sure you have important documents, like your you know, like passports, different things that would take an extremely long time are extremely complicated to get her to get out of duplicates, but medications, any sort of pet meds, take you know, you obviously want to care about your pets, if you have dogs, or cats or what have you, but, but really important documents, medications, phone chargers, things of that nature. And then And then again, you know, arranging someplace to stay with a friend or at a hotel. And, and you'd want to, you'd want to act on that now. That's why our deputies are going door to door now is letting people know that now's the time, now's the time to do that and and then leave.
Would it be possible for the sheriff's office to provide us with areas where your deputies are going door to door just so we can get some visual angle of that?
Yeah, I think you know, Jesse would be really good as if you went to community.zenhaven.com. So punch up, punch up that map. And that's not the public's looking at so we talked about know your zone. That's where the public's going to look to find aware of that, whether they're in an evacuation warning or or in an area that's under an evacuation order. Okay, those zones that those those are where the deputies are headed there. today.
Community dot zone haven calm. Yep. Okay.
Or if you if you want to obtain more information, you can just google Santa, Santa Cruz County debris flow, and it'll go right to the site that the county put together, which has a ton of information.
So Patrick Cruz,
Santa Cruz County debris flow. If you Google that, it'll take you it'll take you to our county's website that has a whole ton of information.
Good. We got we have a real quick request from follow to repeat the services at the temporary evacuation points so you can park your car there for an extended period of time the Red Cross is there. There will be bathrooms, charging stations, there's refreshments. I believe they're also offering pet food and things like that. There's probably some more I can connect with operations and give you some more details. Paul, we do have to run if you have other questions, just reach out to me directly. Thank you everybody for doing this. We'll be in touch