Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Ben Lomond, and Felton are four beautifully unique towns. Together they make a monumental San Lorenzo Valley with a tremendous community. It’s a home to everyone who has been here for generations, and for those who have been here a short time. It has history that is both beautiful and triumphant; but also devastating and tragic.

The valley, covered in beautiful hills, towering redwoods, and warm weather, is also prone to storms. Some storms not as bad as others, but powerful all the same. In the year 1982 a storm — later known as El Nino — interrupted the peaceful landscape.

It started on January 3 with a heavy downpour that lasted into the next day. Rain gauges measured more than 8 inches by the next morning and didn't propose an end. Soon enough the rain encouraged the river to abandon its barriers early that day, and a flood raced towards the County Building.

The heavy rain clashed with high tides in San Francisco, causing commuters and Marin County residences to be stranded on Highway 101 after a mudslide. The following day, after a crack revealed itself in the Soquel Avenue Bridge, the eastbound lane broke down into the river.

That night the rain increased by another 8 inches in Marin County and another 17 inches in the higher elevation of Santa Cruz County. The rain was relentless for 30 hours. There were 500 inaccessible homes in the San Lorenzo Valley due to the damaged access road, leaving an estimated 1,000 residents — from Boulder Creek to Scotts Valley — isolated.

Thousands evacuated from their homes because of floods and slides. Some slides were layers of redwood trees and mud. It wasn't until January 7 that the President was able to declare California authorized for a Disaster Declaration due to the severity. Eleven counties in both north and central California suffered from floods, slides, fire, winds, and even snow. There is a calculated 36 deaths. About 480 were injured, 6,600 homes were destroyed, and 1,300 businesses were destroyed in the few days the storm hit.   

With the damage done, the community rallied and rebuilt. The valley was dependent on each other and made their efforts to be where they are now, each town thrived in its own way. The streets were alive with people, color, smells, and sounds that were unlike anywhere else. Small businesses lining the streets, prospered thanks to the support of the community.

Festivals and parades are held to remind us of the people we lost and to come together as a community. Memorials stand where some loved ones have fallen, but will never be forgotten. Those who lived through the storms won't forget the heartbreak the wind and rain brought. The memories are ever-lasting, but the damage reversible. After one of the worst El Nino storms on record, the community was still strong. Billions of dollars and collective efforts, helped make the town beautiful and alive.  

 Work's Cited: El Nino Storms

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