Todd Guild/The Pajarojnoan This newly built home in Live Oak was severely damaged by a falling tree Sunday morning.

Rain and wind swept across Santa Cruz County on Sunday, with storm damage reported in several places.

Paige Gordon stood near her Live Oak home, hours after a towering eucalyptus tree—felled by heavy winds— smashed through the top floor and rendered the entire structure uninhabitable.

High above her head, wind roared through the small stand of eucalyptuses from which its fallen brethren came.

Gordon lives in the house with her husband and 7-week-old and 17-month-old children. Nobody was injured when the tree came down at 9am, she says. But the tree crashed through the attic and into the upper floor.

“If my kids had been upstairs when that happened, somebody could have died,” she says.

Gordon says she has been grappling with the rules protecting the grove—a protected habitat of monarch butterflies—and with limited county budget to maintain the trees since she moved in three years ago.

“They don’t take care of this parcel,” she says. “It is frustrating, because it could have been avoidable.”

Trees also crashed into several other houses throughout the Mid-County neighborhood, all of them from county-owned property.

It is not clear whether the county will be responsible for the damages.

Santa Cruz County officials on Sunday afternoon were monitoring for storm damage, and warned that excessive rain and winds up to 50 miles per hour would continue into the evening. The Emergency Operation Center is monitoring conditions in the San Lorenzo River, Soquel Creek, Aptos Creek, and Corralitos and Salsipuedes Creeks. 

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Manu Koenig, whose First District covers the neighborhood, says officials are looking at the issue.

Todd Guild/The Pajarojnoan
A family of four was displaced from this home after a eucalyptus tree was toppled by heavy winds. on Sunday.

Koenig says that the county has been looking at problems with the trees for the past year, and has removed several trees to protect the residents. 

But the rules protecting the area can limit those efforts, he says. 

“We’ve been navigating the monarch butterfly habitat management plan on the one hand, and of course our obvious concerns are keeping neighbors safe,” he says. “We do need to strike this balance between the natural environment and the human environment. It’s a constant challenge.”

Flooding is not  expected  on the Pajaro River and the San Lorenzo River. 

“Current conditions pose a significant threat,” the county stated on its Facebook page.

Santa Cruz County emergency officials responded to 73 emergency calls for power and communication lines down around the county along with six calls for traffic collisions by 3pm Sunday.

Residents are advised to avoid travel unless it is absolutely necessary, since high winds and excessive rainfall could cause multiple road hazards. 

For information on road conditions:

Sign up for local emergency alerts on Cruz Aware: CruzAware.orgFor preparedness information, visit the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience at

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


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