Governor declares state of emergency in Santa Cruz County

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency today in Santa Cruz County to help the area pay for the recovery from a storm that hit the fire-ravaged region in October.

Wildfires during the summer in Santa Cruz County gave way to mudslides and flooding in the same areas when high winds and heavy rainfall hit the county between Oct. 12 and Oct. 14.

The storm dropped more than 10 inches of rain in certain parts of the county, according to Paul Horvat, the county's emergency services manager.

Mud and water flows from the storm caused mandatory evacuations of residents, utility outages to thousands of homes, and more than $1 million in damage to roads and other infrastructure, forcing the county to declare a local emergency on Oct. 20.

The governor's proclamation acknowledges the local declaration and “provides a source to recover costs related to the response” to the storm, Horvat said.

The state's proclamation was delayed somewhat because another blaze, the Loma Fire, also hit Santa Cruz County in late October, preventing state officials from surveying the area.

Schwarzenegger's proclamation orders all state agencies to employ personnel, equipment and facilities as directed by the California Emergency Management Agency, and for Cal EMA to provide local government assistance to the county.

Horvat said the area that was impacted the most by the storm was near The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, where Eureka Canyon Road was closed for about a week.

The proclamation will allow the county to be reimbursed for repairs to the road and other infrastructure, as well as for overtime that officials from several county agencies had to work during the emergency, Horvat said.

The governor's proclamation said that “these mudslides and flooding, by reason of their magnitude, are beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single county, city … and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat.”

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