SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — A flash flood warning on Wednesday afternoon prompts fears of erosion in the burn zones of Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood.
Both above ground, and below.
There is an all-out effort to hold the ground in place in places burned by the fire and it is a race against the clock as rains move into Sonoma County.
Santa Rosa Fire Department assistant fire marshal Paul Lowenthal said, “With this forecast, we know we’ve got a lot of work to get accomplished in a short period of time.”
Four hand crews are out clearing storm drains and making sure water won’t run off the roads and erode burnt lots.
And over a dozen crews are threading cameras through storm drains to look for weaknesses or blockages.
But there’s also concern about sliding hillsides and debris removal sites, which is why All-County Debris Removal is choosing to leave the slabs in place for winter.
“It’s completely exposed,” said Diana Boley with All County Debris Removal. “It’s going to start running down those hills, down the road. There’s no brush, there’s nothing to hold that soil. So it’s all going to come down on Mark West Springs [Road] eventually.”
Erosion control is part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ debris removal process, but it is so far down the list, that some homeowners are worried about what’s going to happen to their lot.
One was cleared and completed Wednesday and already where the foundation used to be, is a huge puddle.
Some homeowners have already been seeding their lawn to make sure it stays in place and if it doesn’t, a system of barriers and sand bags is set up to catch most of the debris before it heads down the drain.
“We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” Lowenthal said. “That being said, we know that we have the risk in the hillside. We know that we’ve got the compromised infrastructure regarding our storm drain systems, as well as the damage that was done by the fire itself.”
The City of Santa Rosa has activated its emergency operation center, but they are also asking residents who see something to call 911 and let them know.
As of 10 p.m. on Wednesday, there were no reports of mudslides or flooding in the Santa Rosa area.