With many predictions of the upcoming El Niño being one of the strongest storms that could drench the Santa Cruz mountains and cause havoc on areas that have experienced a drought for some time now, many residents and organizations have begun to take steps to prepare for what could come. Wisely, many communities have had Emergency Preparedness Workshops and this past week, on Tuesday, December 8th, Scotts Valley had its own workshop for residents in and around Scotts Valley.

The event was well attended by local agencies and businesses that had resources to aid those in need, as well as many local residents who went to learn what they should be doing to get ready for the potential upcoming storms. To see the complete list of presenters at the workshop, scroll down towards the end of this post.

In talking with numerous agencies and businesses, it appeared very clear to me that many of the things we take for granted or don’t really think about as being important, are more important than we think.


I was made aware that should there be a declared emergency where the need for housing during a natural or man-made disaster should arise, our schools would be a housing center in auditoriums and other school facilities that could potentially house those in need.

Another important issue was the fact that schools can only release your children to you or those you assign to have the authority to pick up your children. For example, if there were to be a situation where you would be out of the area for the day, working over the hill, etc., and you could not make it in time to pick up your child while there is flooding or other problems that would prevent you from picking up your child, the school would keep your child as they become their number one priority. This is of course not meant to be used as a child-care opportunity, this is more referring to if there was a local disaster that did not allow you to pick up your child in time due to these circumstances.

The importance of assigning and authorizing someone now with your child’s school cannot be overstated. Contact the Scotts Valley School District for more information at 831-566-6576 on their emergency evacuation and student safety plan.


Several local businesses were present to discuss with residents the various items that are available to protect you and your home. For example:


Sandbag Alternatives

Scarborough Ace Hardware (831-438-0581) in town had a display of generators as well as lighting supplies and other items that could be crucial should we lose power during a storm, or need to make repairs to your property. My experience in almost 20 years as a Scotts Valley resident tells me that power outages are very common during storms and purchasing a generator is high on our list of future purchases. I recall not too long ago having no power for many days in one storm and I told myself during that occurrence that I would be buying one ASAP. That was a few years ago and I still have not done it, so don’t feel bad if you have not either. A decent size generator was at the workshop for about $700.

Scotts Valley Sprinkler & Pipe (831-438-6450) had a display of sandbag alternatives that could be filled with water and used whenever and wherever it is needed. The great thing about these is that when not needed, they can be emptied out and folded away, unlike sandbags that take up space and are not as easy to transport. Also check out Central Home Supply (831-440-0763) and Granite Rock (831-471-3400) as they also have sandbags and may also carry other alternatives in addition to other needed supplies.


Our pets are our family, no doubt. Scotts Valley Feed (831-438-3194) was there discussing pet safety, along with some great supplies and tips. I would get in touch with them and see what they have to offer in terms of advice and pet supplies that you may need in the event of an emergency. If power goes out to a good portion of the area or if getting around becomes difficult, make sure you have what you need for your pets for at least a week’s supply.


Trees – One thing that really stuck to me was how I have never really thought of having an arborist come to my home for an evaluation of trees around my home. But the thing is, during a storm with winds, fallen trees can have a devastating effect on homes, property and even life. Remember, we have had a drought for some time now and there are actually trees that are dead and you may not know about that could come crashing down in the next wind and rainstorm. Davey Tree/Nature First (408-309-7088) arborists were there talking about this very thing and offered to come out to your home at no cost to give your trees an evaluation and let you know which trees could be a potential problem.

Flood Insurance – There were also a couple of homeowners insurance agents, Cassidy Insurance (831-438-5490) and State Farm Insurance / Laureen Yungmeyer (831-423-4700) talking about flood insurance and how surprisingly affordable flood insurance was. For a home under 3,000sf, a flood insurance policy was coming in just under $500 for a year’s coverage. But here is the catch, you MUST have it for at least 30 days before you can make a claim so don’t wait until it start pouring to do so. Contact any of these two agencies or your own agency and find out what they cover, the cost, and consider having flood insurance if it makes sense for you. It could be a lot cheaper than the alternative should disaster strike.

There were many other services (see list below) such as A-1 Overhead Doors (831-688-5892) and Computer Center Santa Cruz (831-464-7262) who can help you with emergency backup and computer services if a power surge or loss of power should damage your computer. Hey, it actually happens all the time.


Numerous agencies like Cal Fire, the Sheriffs Department, Scotts Valley Police Department & Fire Department, Scotts Valley Water District and others were there and are there for you should you need their assistance. One thing they all have in common is the importance of being prepared and contacting them immediately should a need arise that warrants their assistance. Visiting their websites and Facebook pages will keep you informed as they will probably be updating communities as needed.


SVWD GM Piret Harmon

The Scotts Valley Water District, as well as the Scotts Valley Police Department have really done a great job in understanding the importance of social media as well as the importance of staying in touch with its residents. I spoke to the General Manager of the Water District and one of the things she said and preached was the importance of staying in touch with the SVWD by giving them your information so that you can be reached or given updates on the water situation. To reach their website and give your contact info, click here. You can also visit and follow their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/svwater.

Likewise, the SVPD has really done a great job with reaching out to residents via social media to keep everyone informed on any potential or current crime issues, as well as arrests that were made complete with photos when deemed necessary or appropriate. I am certain that they will be equally proactive in reporting and giving information on their page should the need arise during El Niño. Visit and consider following their page at www.facebook.com/ScottsValleyPD and get hooked. I know I have!

Agencies like The Salvation Army (831-429-8118), The Red Cross (831-462-2881), and my personal favorite, Valley Churches United Missions (831-336-8258) were there giving out information and letting people know they will be there should the need arise.


I really enjoyed having a lengthy conversation with meteorologist and professor at Cabrillo College, Keith Ducote about El Niño and his thoughts and predictions on what is to come. I have to have him on my radio show one of these nights before El Niño and he agreed to do so sometime in January. Can wait for that!


Here are some important link that you should know about for various resources not just during an emergency, but at all times.


LAND LINE – Find out which neighbor has a land line. This was a great tip by a friend of mine, Josh, who was at the workshop as he reminded me about the importance of having use to a land line should cell phones not work. I was confident and puffed my chest out that I had a land line as I had it with Comcast and I was immediately told that Comcast phone is an Internet service. Wow! So now I am off to find out who my favorite neighbor will be.

WATER & FOOD – In addition to water, store about 1 weeks worth if food that you do not need to cook should you need it. This was interesting. I always thought a few snacks would suffice, but never did I think I would or could need more than that. Great tip!

LIGHT & DRY – Keep a good supply of batteries, flashlights, matches and candles, as well as some rain gear in the event that you have to go outside to get things.

ELECTRONICS – Turn off your computers and other electronics immediately and keep them off to avoid damage during a power surge. I lost a nice television due to a power surge once and I have heard of many others who have lost computers and other electronics that were damaged when the power came back on.

CLOSE THE FRIDGE – Keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible. Every time you open it, you lose a lot of the cold temperature needed for your perishables.

CALL PG&E – If you see a downed power line, immediately report it to PG&E by calling 800-743-5000 and stay away.

CARBON MONOXIDE – Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because it is scentless and can go undetected when you are using fire to keep you warm or to cook inside your home. Carbon Monoxide is deadly. Make sure you have detectors and alarms in your home at all times, beginning now.


In closing, I was happy to see such a great turnout and was very impressed by the way the entire workshop came together. The timing of it is in line with the potential rains that are due maybe late January through February. The thing with weather is that it is hard to predict when it comes, how strong it will be and for how long it will last. However, what you can control are your actions and preventive measures that you can take to make sure you are ready.

On this page, we will continue to update with relevant links and information when possible. In addition, the My Scotts Valley Facebook page will be updated in “real time” as information becomes available from various sources. Consider visiting and liking the page to stay on top of things and be “in the know”. Visit it at www.Facebook.com/MyScottsValley.

Also, I have said it before, and I will say it yet again, kudos to Donna Lind for all she did in spearheading this event. No doubt that it was a total and complete effort by so many like Ron over at Crown Catering and Scotts Valley Market who once again supplied food and beverages for everyone, and all the great people who were there giving out information. It truly takes a village. But Donna just took the bull by the horn and made it happen and you have to give credit where credit is due.

blue divider

Robert Aldana

Robert Aldana
Scotts Valley Resident
831-252-3959 Direct Line
Contact Me

2015 Disaster Preparedness Resources – Scotts Valley
Business Service Phone
911 Restoration (Angela) Flood Repair 831-688-7847
A-1 Overhead Doors Co. Garage Door Safety & Functionality 831-688-5892
Cassidy Insurance Insurance /Flood Insurance 831-438-5490
CAL FIRE Fire Safety & First Aid 831-335-6701
Central Home Supply Scotts Valley Sand Bags 831-440-0763
Computer Center Santa Cruz Computer Back-Ups  & Technology Preparation 831-464-7262
Davey Tree/Nature First (Travis Evans) ISA Certified Arborist, a Davey Tree Co. 408-309-7088
Giant Electric – Mark Electric Home & Business Safety 831-212-6591
Granite Rock Sand Bags & Supplies & Prep Info 831-471-3400
Keith Ducote Cabrillo College Meteorologist 831-479-6192
KSBW Emergency Radio & Applications 831-426-3888
PG&E Power / Live Wires 800-743-5000
Red Cross First Aid / Shelters 831-462-2881
Russ Patterson (R.E. Patterson & Assoc.) Emergency Preparedness 408-718-0004
Salvation Army Emergency Services & Aid 831-429-8118
Santa Cruz County Bank Valuable Safety/Document Safety & Tips 831-461-5000
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department Personal & Security Safety 831-471-1121
Scarborough Ace Hardware Generators /Lighting / Flood Related Supplies 831-438-0581
Scotts Valley Feed (Christine) Pet Safety Preparedness 831-438-3194
Scotts Valley Fire Department First Aid/Safety & Fire Prevention 831-438-0211
Scotts Valley Market/Crown Catering Providing snacks & beverages 831-438-4324
Scotts Valley Parks & Rec Resources 831-438-3251
Scotts Valley Police Department Personal Security and Safety 831-440-5670
Santa Cruz Co. Public Works Flood Control / Road Safety 831-420-5160
Scotts Valley Public Works Flood Control / Road Safety 831-438-5854
Scotts Valley School District Emergency Evacuation /Student Safety 831-566-6576
Scotts Valley Sprinkler & Pipe Irrigation/Drainage to prevent flooding 831-438-6450
Scotts Valley Water District Water Issues during Floods/Storms 831-438-2363
State Farm Insurance / Laureen Yungmeyer Insurance / Flood Insurance 831-423-4700
Valley Churches United Missions Emergency Services & Aid 831-336-8258