Predictions are dire. The news is not good. According to Rob of OES, a rainfall of 1.5-1.9 inches in 3 hours at any point this winter will result in a catastrophic event for Big Sur. OES is setting up a flood watch, and flood warning system. The flood watch will be relatively easy to implement, and the OES plans on using any and all means available for notification of residents. KUSP is already working with OES regarding providing public service announcements . Flood warning will be problematic, as there might not be enough time, and if issued too early, might result in lesser compliance as more warnings are issued. Some, if not many, evacuations will occur. The BSVFB is working out the logistics and places available for evacuation shelters, here in Big Sur, rather than at Carmel Middle School.
The State Park campground will close 11/1/08, and may not be open again until Memorial Day, 2009, due to flood concerns. Two of the bridges to the campground will be removed, to prevent being washed away. One will be put back after winter rains. The other bridge is to be rebuilt to withstand a 100 year flood. This will put a serious strain on the campgrounds and areas down on the South Coast during this 7-month closure, as well as the businesses in the Valley.
Cal-Trans has been taking a very pro-active position, and my drive north today demonstrated this position on the ground. Lots of work going on in preparation for winter. USFS is woefully lacking in their participation and preparation, and the community expressed its frustration with the USFS and with John Bradford, who was unprepared to answer questions about what his agency was doing. Sam Farr’s office is calling for a meeting with the USFS for next week.
It is hard to envision what may happen this winter. If you’ve watched any debris flow videos, you know that these things are like runaway freight trains, and all one can do is get out of the way. We can only hope that whatever rains we get are gentle, otherwise, slides, road closures, bridges washed away or taken out by debris flow, houses not burned could be flooded, or filled with mud and debris. We must pray that no one is injured.
I wish I had better news for all of us, but the meeting was excruciatingly depressing and detailed about what we are facing. I will revise this abbreviated report tomorrow, as I left my notes in the Jeep, but the critical points are here.
Also, please note I have updated the Winter Preparations Page of my blog with links to the SEAT report, and the federal BAER report, released to the public 9/26/08. I have added a few notes from the reports themselves, although the BAER report was a bit of a disappointment.