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March 20, 2023

Flooded creek tears away chunk of Soquel’s Main Street

SOQUEL—More than 1,000 Soquel residents are trapped in their neighborhood after raging waters tore away a huge chunk of Main Street early Thursday morning.

According to Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin, the damage began around 3am, as Bates Creek, which flows under North Main Street just north of Pringle Lane, tore away the 6-foot culvert that ran under the road, and then chewed away the road.

County officials called an emergency contractor, which was dumping tons of rock into the culvert in hopes of creating a temporary one-lane road, Hoppin said. 

If that plan works, the road could be open as early as Saturday morning. If not, workers plan to build a temporary bridge, which will take about two days, he said.

Neighbors trapped beyond the closure are now walking a circuitous path through a neighbor’s property, who was allowing access over a small wooden footbridge.

Roughly 450 homes lie beyond the closure, and about 40 residents who do not have wells were without water Friday. Workers from Soquel Creek Water District were working to restore their service.

Katie Bauer, who lives in Berkeley, was visiting family for the weekend when the road washed out. She is now unsure how she will get back to work on Sunday.

“I’m surprised—this is worse than it was on New Year’s,” she said. “I didn’t think the road would be fully washed out.”

Matt Lucas brought his 3-year-old son Nolan to see the excavator and rock-hauler trucks as they worked to bridge the gap.

“They said it was going to be a big storm, and it delivered last night,” he said. 

Lucas said that the county had already looked at the culvert after the storms in January.

“It’s a little bit of a bummer that they didn’t see this one coming, or had somebody keep their eye on it,” he said. 

Santa Cruz City Manager Matt Huffaker expressed his appreciation for how quickly the County reacted to the incident. While a temporary repair will come soon, he said that a permanent fix is still a ways away.

“Obviously, this is going to be a long-term repair,” he said. 


  1. Good work Todd. In 1982 my husband, Bob Smith, was down in Bates Creek with the then Soquel Volunteer fire department crew and managed to clear enough debris to prevent what happened today. Bob was a reporter for the Pajaronian and the Green Sheet. He worked for the RP from 1973 until 1998. He eventually became the RP wire editor and Systems editor. The last 10 years of his career he was with the Sentinel in the systems department. Bob was all over the county during that storm as well as the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989. You reporters are all working hard to bring us the news as quickly as you can. Bob passed 2021 but would be glad to know the RP staff is covering more than South County. Thank you! Heidi Smith

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