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Storm watch: Preparing for debris flow, road issues this weekend

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) The County of Santa Cruz Emergency Operations Center is monitoring this weekend's storm for any possible debris flow issues.

The county said the rainfall expected Sunday could meet debris flow thresholds in the CZU Fire burn scar area.

Evacuation warnings have been issued in parts of the county. Those zones can be found in this article.

Residents are asked to check their zone on the Community Zonehaven website. Any evacuation orders or warnings will be sent through those zones.

"People, in general, this winter need to be prepared for the potential to evacuate. For this storm, we do anticipate evacuating some part of the community," said Mark Strudley, Santa Cruz County Flood Control Program and Division Manager. "People need to be prepared to leave temporarily to get out of harm's way."

People can also register for alerts at scr911.org, download the CodeRED app or text SCR911 to 99411.

Strudley says debris flow concerns can last for years after a major fire.

Caltrans is also preparing for any possible road closures and debris flow issues.

"It was just at the end of January when we experienced a very significant rain event. So I think with that fresh in our memory, we will continue this weekend to do our customary storm patrol of all the state highways," said Kevin Drabinski, Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 5.

Earlier this year, heavy rain in the Big Sur area caused Highway 1 to collapse. Drabinski says another event like that is unlikely.

"Many people don't realize that thereʼs a whole system of culverts that run from the hillside under the highway
with an outlet to the ocean. We continue to maintain those culverts to keep them open," said Drabinski.

Caltrans also has culverts running in areas that have recently experienced wildfires, including the Santa Cruz Mountains, near the Dolan Fire burn scar and even the recent Alisal Fire in Santa Barbara County.

The California Highway Patrol is also warning drivers to be careful in the wet weather. They have already had to respond to multiple deadly collisions in the past few days.

"Take it easy on the roadway. Use your lights if you're using your wiper blades. Don't go through any flooded areas that you might see and stay home if you can," said Drabinski.

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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