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Santa Cruz County braces for weekend deluge

Santa Cruz braces for atmospheric river deluge
Santa Cruz braces for atmospheric river deluge 02:37

SANTA CRUZ -- The buzz around Santa Cruz County is that the next storm could bring a return of flooding to communities like Soquel.

That's why metal fabricator Currie Collier was at work in front of a bar. He was hired to build a slide-in storm door that can be quickly used to block floodwaters if they come.

"These brackets will hold a piece of plywood so they can just slip it right in if they need it. It's a whole lot more sanitary than sandbags and a whole lot lighter too," Collier explained.

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All the businesses along Soquel Avenue are bracing for the worst. Last year, the neighborhood flooded twice after a storm drain which connects with Soquel Creek back-flowed into the street.

Pedro Hernandez says his El Chipotle Taqueria was covered in inches of mud. This time he hopes to be ready.

"I can try to put some more sandbags in the front door," Hernandez said. "But it was very bad last year, very bad."

Damage from storms so far this year has been moderate. A large culvert carrying runoff to the ocean was damaged by heavy flows along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. But the San Lorenzo River has been under control. The pattern of downpours followed by short breaks has given the community time to dry out.

James Mileo used the brief dry interlude to do some repair work on a client's roof in the low-lying community of Felton Grove. He's hoping the forecasts he's heard are wrong.

"You have to watch out for downed lines, trees fallen. If we get seven inches of rain right here, we'll be under water. There's just no way to stop it coming down from the mountains," he said.

Fortunately, most of the homes in this community are built with living spaces on the second floor because flooding has happened here before and could soon happen again.

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