‘It’s crazy’: Massive flooding strikes the Rio Del Mar flats

Damage after the storms in Rio Del Mar
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

‘It’s the flats and it’s famous for flooding,” said one longtime Rio Del Mar resident who had been evacuated from the area and was waiting anxiously to see the state of her house after massive waves flooded the area Thursday morning.

Flooding struck the Rio Del Mar area as early as 8 a.m. Thursday, damaging homes and roadways as storm-driven waves caused water to go over the ocean wall, according to residents in the area.

Deputy County Administrative Officer Melodye Serino said that an assessment team has had difficulty reaching the area due to high waters, and does not currently know the number of homes that may have been damaged.

Patricia, a Rio Del Mar resident who asked for only her first name to be used, was walking her dog Loli around 9:30 a.m. on Marine Avenue as heavy rain came down over the area.

Yesterday, Patricia was one of several residents in Rio Del Mar that were relocated to the Sea Cliff Inn by sheriff deputies in anticipation of the storm.

“This is a mandatory evacuated area,” Patricia said. “It’s the flats and it’s famous for flooding.”

After last night’s storm, Patricia said she decided to go back home to check if there was any damage.

She said everything seemed fine at around 7 a.m. But within the hour, the streets around her home began to flood.

At one point, a large blue dumpster floated down one of the flooded streets before coming to an abrupt stop in the middle of the road.

The worst of possibilities, a massive swell peaking just as the tide was at its highest, may have been avoided in...

While her home hasn’t suffered any damage at this time, Patricia said she plans to return to the Sea Cliff Inn for at least another night.

“I’m not going to sleep here not knowing,” she said.

After the mandatory evacuation in the area, Eric Stark left his seaside property in Aptos and went to a nearby hotel.

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When he got back to check on his property this morning after hearing about possible flooding, mud and debris covered much of the inside of his home.

“The whole front wall was gone,” Stark said. “This is a disaster.”

He spent the remainder of his morning removing dozens of ruined and muddied household items from inside his home.

He added that when the roads opened back up, he planned on bringing his dump truck to throw out anything damaged. ”

Rio Del Mar resident Cynthia Coahran said that in her 20 years living in the area, she’s never seen it flood like this.

“It floods here often when it rains because the drains down here get full of leaves and debris,” according to Coachran, who said her house is just above the flood zone. “But that’s usually just water coming down the hill, it’s not usually water coming down from the ocean.”

Coahran was out Thursday morning looking at the flooding on Venetian Road where sand and foam covered much of the street. Large waves crashed over the sea wall.

“I’ve seen waves reach the wall but never breach it,” she said. “It’s crazy.”

—With a report from Max Chun



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