Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Planetary Tremors: Massive Landslide - Scotts Valley, California!

Several days ago, I highlighted the collapse of over 120 feet of a California highway into the Pacific Ocean, today a massive landslide block roads and left residents totally isolated and stranded in Scotts Valley.

Residents of 33 homes in an unincorporated area of the county are in their second day of being stranded from the outside world after a landslide on Monday afternoon blocked the only road to their homes. According to Scotts Valley Fire District Cpt. Mike Pasquini, the slide, which occurred near Scotts Valley on Nelson Road at Sky Meadow Lane, does not present any immediate danger to residents. "The homes are affected in the sense that they have no access," Pasquini said. About 57 people live in the affected area and three to four houses are still without power, according to April Murray, public information officer for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s officers contacted all of the residents on Monday and most said they were planning on staying in their homes. “We have seen some people leave though,” Murray said. “People with babies and animals have been making their way out.” With no road access, residents in the neighborhood cleared a footpath through the brush to be able to go back and forth through the area. On Tuesday, sheriff’s officers on ATVs made their way into the area to reach out to the isolated homeowners to make sure they were all doing alright and to see if anyone needed anything. “We want to check to make sure people have food and water and just to let them know we are here,” Murray said. The 200-foot wide landslide of shale and mud began around 10 a.m. on Monday with rocks falling for hours, according to several residents, then, a major slide happened around 2 p.m., completely closing the road. Resident Kris Kaufeldt said he drove through around 11 a.m. on Monday and was the last person to make it before the slide made the road impassable. “At that time, we were seeing rocks continually coming down,” Kaufeldt said. “It was sketchy but I thought the majority of it had come down. Nobody expected this.” Kaufeldt said after trying to help a neighbor remove a tree that was blocking the road he went home. Later, the power at his residence went out and he heard from another neighbor that, “The whole mountain came down.” “There were basketball-size rocks coming down and it was making so much noise,” Kaufeldt said. Joy Williams, whose house is closest to the landslide and in its direct path, said that a portion of the fence keeping her alpacas in was knocked down by the slide. “We watched it coming down for a while,” Williams said. “Then when it really started to come down, we booked it out of there.” Williams said she is concerned about the week’s coming rain and having to evacuate. “I’m really worried that more of the mountain could fall,” Williams said. “Right now, we can’t go anywhere. We can’t get out. I’m really shook up by all of this. The devastation is mind blowing.” But if there is one bright spot, Williams said it is how everyone has been there for one another. “The only positive has been getting to know a lot of my neighbors,” she said. “We’ve all really come together and that’s been a blessing.” Kaufeldt agreed. “We are all very private people up here, so it’s been nice getting to know everyone,” he said. “We’ve been able to make the best of the situation and do whatever we can to help each other out.” Geologists and the county public works department are monitoring the area and a plan to clear the road will soon be released. - Scotts Valley Patch.