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Another storm soaks Santa Cruz County

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Jerimiah Oetting
The San Lorenzo river near downtown Santa Cruz rose to within feet of the Laurel street bridge.

Thousands of Santa Cruz County residents were ordered to evacuate their homes on Monday, as the relentless onslaught of storms that have drenched the central coast continued for another round.

Over 32,000 residents were evacuated across the county, according to a county spokesperson. Power outages, road closures, landslide and flooding threatened communities from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pajaro river valley near Watsonville. Power outages among PG&E customers were widespread.

The San Lorenzo river looking north towards the Laurel street bridge.

The parking lot at the Tannery Arts Complex at the north end of downtown Santa Cruz, flooded Monday morning, as water from the San Lorenzo River breached its banks.

"This is the highest it's ever been...since I've lived here," said Gazelle Parsons, an artist who has lived at the Tannery for 13 years and was one of its earliest tenants.

More than 250 residents had to move their vehicles out of the apartment's parking lots as they became inundated with water.

"When I came out of the elevator this morning, I looked over and it was just the river right outside the parking garage," Parsons said. "So that was kind of a crazy sight."

By early afternoon the river had receded out of the parking lot, but was mere feet below a popular walking path behind the apartment complex. Debris rushed past in the torrent of water, including everything from whole trees to camping coolers.

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Jerimiah Oetting
KAZU News.
CC and Gazelle Parsons with their dog Stella, standing on the walking trail behind the Tannery Arts Complex shortly after the rain receded from the parking lot.

That debris originated upriver, where the communities that dot the San Lorenzo Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains suffered more severe damage.

The neighborhoods of Felton Grove and Paradise Park were flooded, with reports that police needed to use jet skis to rescue some residents.

Sal Zavala owns the Empire Grill in the town of Felton. He said his employees couldn’t make it to work because many of the roads into town were damaged or blocked by flooding.

"Some of the employees, they basically got stuck," he said. "It was just flooded...nobody was going through."

Jerimiah Oetting
The San Lorenzo river Monday evening following the storm, looking south towards the Water avenue bridge. The river receded to more normal levels, leaving behind a smattering of downed logs, trash and what looks to be a propane tank that washed downstream.

Overall, 32,000 people in Santa Cruz County were subject to an evacuation order due to the storm. City officials in Watsonville say the Pajaro river is still at risk of flooding. Evacuation orders remain in effect for areas in the Pajaro river valley.

If more rain hits the region as forecasted, it's possible the county will see evacuations come and go over the next several days.