The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office ordered neighborhoods in portions of Soquel, Felton, Rio Del Mar, Watsonville and Pajaro Valley to evacuate immediately. In a separate order, the city government placed portions of Capitola Village under evacuation. But as police officers went door to door in the neighborhoods at risk, they found a mix of people choosing to stay and deciding to leave.
Police officers knocked on the doors of about 350 homes under evacuation orders in Capitola Wednesday afternoon informing them of the incoming storm’s dangers.
Three different homes told Lookout, and the officers, they were planning to stay but would monitor the storm closely.
“I guess we could find a hotel somewhere – if we feel that insecure about it,” said Bob Mendes. “Fortunately, I have an all-wheel drive SUV, so we could probably get out of here.”
He and his wife Dusty live on Riverview Avenue, which along with the commercial blocks of Capitola Village, was under evacuation orders.
Local officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for a large swath of the county, as a fierce rainstorm and high winds brought widespread power outages and threatened to flood low-lying neighborhoods close to creeks and rivers.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office ordered neighborhoods in portions of Soquel, Felton, Rio Del Mar, Watsonville and Pajaro Valley to evacuate immediately.
In a separate order, the city government placed portions of Capitola Village under evacuation. The area in question ranges from 515 Riverview Drive north of Capitola Village down to El Camino Medio just south of the village. The Historic Venetian Court beside Wharf Road is also under the same order.
But as officers went door to door in the neighborhoods at risk, Capitola Police Captain Sarah Ryan said officers heard a mix of people choosing to stay and deciding to leave.
“Weather can be unpredictable,” she said. “It’s important to be cautious.”
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Just before 6 p.m., Jahmin Lerum, who also lives on Riverview Avenue, said he was feeling prepared for Wednesday evening’s weather. He and his wife planned on staying in their home, which is on the second story, and he said he was more concerned about what was to come on Thursday.
“So my main concern is the wave action that’s going to be following the high tide at around 8:30 a.m. [tomorrow.] That’ll be the make or break point,” he said. “That could push the river in on itself and push it higher with the storm surge. I think that’s going to be the riskiest point is about 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.”
Lerum had just finished talking to two Capitola officers. They told him the area was at risk of flooding and while residents were under an evacuation order offices weren’t forcing anyone to leave. After Lerum told officers he and his wife were staying, they requested his contact information and continued knocking on doors.
Some Soquel residents were also choosing to stay at home despite authorities issuing a mandatory evacuation order for the area on Wednesday.
When Soquel suffered severe flooding during the storm last weekend, it caught many of its residents and business owners by surprise.
“We didn’t have any sand bags at the time,” said Steve Volk, owner of the Ugly Mug coffee shop on Soquel Drive. “It all came through the trailer park.”
Although Volk’s business didn’t suffer any damage during that storm, his neighbors weren’t so lucky.
Residents described Soquel Drive flooding up to a foot high Saturday, and many of the businesses were filled with mud from the nearby creek.
It took three days for the community to get everything cleaned up, he added.
Volk lives by the creek, but he said he won’t be evacuating because his home lies above the flood zone.
He joked about using his canoe to get around the streets if the water got too high.
Despite the parking lot at Sir Froggy’s Pub flooding on New Years Eve, patrons of the bar felt no urgency to evacuate Soquel.
Many of them sensed that if a flood occurred, the water wouldn’t reach the inside of the bar.
One bar patron and Soquel resident however, who declined to be named, said he’d be leaving as a precautionary measure and would be staying elsewhere with family.
On Wednesday afternoon, Anton Ganeshalingham was walking along Soquel Drive looking for a place where he could get more sand bags in preparation for the storm.
Ganeshalingham said that although he lives in Soquel Village, he is a little concerned about authorities calling for people to evacuate although he lives above the flood zone.
He said that because many of the main roads are closed, he doesn’t know where he would be evacuating.
Brandon Wright said he also wouldn’t be evacuating his Soquel home unless the water reached the end of his driveway, as it did over the weekend.
“I’m going to keep an eye on the house and have a go-bag ready and my car up the street,” he said.
Wright said he struggled with finding sandbags in preparation for the storm, visiting several different locations before finally getting 20 bags from a resource center.
To further protect his home, he also filled up trash bags with dirt from his backyard.
“This time we are a little bit more prepared,” he said. “We love our businesses here and I’m just more worried about them.”
—Fernando Haro Garcia is a reporter with the Long Beach Post.