Hard rain hits Croy fire victims

A minivan passes by a large pile of gravel left along Croy Road

GILROY
– As the rain continued to put the Croy Fire down for good
Sunday and the California Department of Forestry declared fire
season over, residents of Croy Road came face-to-face with a new
danger – erosion.
GILROY – As the rain continued to put the Croy Fire down for good Sunday and the California Department of Forestry declared fire season over, residents of Croy Road came face-to-face with a new danger – erosion.

“This is a real unfortunate time,” said Rachael Gibson, land-use aide to District One Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage. “This fire struck at a really inopportune time: A month later we get hit with one of the worst storms of the season.”

Erosion has been a concern for county officials since the Croy fire was contained Sept. 29. Gage called around and was able to secure donations of three truckloads of gravel from Granite Construction and Freeman and Blue Stone quarries and 60 bales of hay from Kip Brundage of G & K Farms of California to help soak up the rains and slow erosion, but the unexpected downpour came a week too early, with 3.36 inches of rain falling since Wednesday.

“We did want to do something,” Gibson said Friday. “We were going to distribute it this weekend, but Mother Nature stepped up the timetable.”

There is a 20 percent chance of rain Tuesday and a possibility of light rains Friday and Saturday.

Jim Kern, who was building a barn at the 7900 block of Croy Road before the fire burned it down, came up to help maintain Croy Road Thursday and Friday.

“Everything looked pretty stable,” said Kern, who added that there were no mud slides near the road and that all the sandbags and other items laid out to soak up the rain held up better than expected.

“Under the circumstances, with the volume of rain, I think we did real well,” he said.

Because many homes in the area are on private roads, have gates or can’t be found on maps, the county decided not to make door-to-door deliveries of hay and gravel, figuring the best way to help everyone was to leave piles where residents could came and pick it up as needed.

Gravel was made available at turnouts along Croy Road, with the final load at a clearing at the 7900 block of Croy. The county also made 20 bales of hay available at a turnout and left the other 40 at the clearing.

The distribution area was limited to the Croy area because it was most impacted by the fire and has more residents than the Summit Road area, Gibson said.

“We had to decide how to deliver this to accomplish the greatest amount of good,” she said.

Residents came down with their own vehicles and backhoes to load hay and gravel and spread it on their property, but it didn’t stop the storm from wreaking havoc on the area.

“The winds whipped things in a frenzy up there,” Gibson said. “There are lots of trees down over a lot of roads.”

Residents brought out chainsaws to clear the trees from roadways and to maintain Croy Road, but the rains did cause other problems in more rural areas. Libby Sofer of the Ormsby Volunteer Fire Department told Gibson that she had mud coming up to her axles, and she could barely make her way around the area.

One resident tried multiple routes to get home, but could only get within a mile, giving up and staying at Motel 6.

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