This evening Cal Fire lifted its emergency evacuation order for the UC Santa Cruz residential campus.
I have amended the Aug. 20 emergency declaration so that employees who live at Laureate Court, Hagar Court, Ranch View Terrace, Hagar Meadow, and Cardiff Terrace can return to their homes tonight. The rest of the residential campus remains closed, as do the Coastal Science Campus and Westside Research Park.
We know everyone is eager to return to campus, whether it’s for student housing, to conduct research, or to provide on-site services. We are eager too, but must first ensure all pieces are in place for our community to begin returning to these sites. Closing the residential campus last week required us to shut down several critical systems, including our cogeneration plant, our natural gas systems, and other basic infrastructure. They must be returned safely online before the campus is fully repopulated.
Additionally, parts of upper campus, including Family Student Housing, remain without power, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is not sure when power will be restored. We will continue to provide updates in the days and weeks ahead.
Except for the people living in the employee housing communities outlined above, no one should attempt to access the residential campus, Coastal Science Campus, or Westside Research Park until directed that it is OK to do so.
We are optimistic that we will very soon be able to re-open our Coastal Science Campus and Westside Research Park. With the Cal Fire order lifted, we are working hard to ensure our residential communities are ready to welcome back the students that were forced to evacuate.
Reopening the residential campus will be deliberate and phased. Everything will be done to support the health and well-being of our community, and in a way that helps to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
We are immediately focused on restoring critical campus infrastructure, allowing employees and families to return to campus housing, and resuming services provided by our COVID-19 diagnostic lab and our Student Health Center.
With Cal Fire lifting evacuation orders for several areas, people should anticipate traffic congestion and limited visibility due to smoke. I encourage us all to be patient and kind, particularly in these moments of collective stress.
Faculty and staff should be ready to show their campus or other ID to enter employee housing communities and should exercise caution when returning to their homes, especially if they do so after dark. I encourage you to visit one of the following sites about who to contact and tips for returning home following a wildfire:
While we are fortunate the wildfire never reached our residential campus, the ash and smoke it created entered our buildings, requiring that we assess and clean some areas of campus before they can be reopened.
In the coming days, we expect to allow research labs approved under our COVID-19 restrictions and some student housing to reopen, and that dining services will resume preparing meals at our residential campus. As a reminder you can find consistent updates at ucsc.edu/fire.
Our community has shown exceptional strength and compassion in the face of great adversity. We are beginning the long road of recovering from this wildfire. I know we will emerge a more resilient and close-knit campus and community.
Stay safe, stay well, and stay connected.