Community copes with infrastructure damage due to fire

Posted at 7:53 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 18:12:55-04

Air pollution, the loss of homes and lives are just some of the effects we've become accustomed to expect with wildfires. But Amanda Brandeis is showing us a new trend among these fires and how they're destroying the drinking water systems in the towns they are ravaging through.

With bars and restaurants dating back to the 1900's - surrounded by trees over 1,000 years old - many move to this small mountain town to slow down. But life was disrupted last month when the inching flames evacuated the entire community.

"Took out communities of 20-30 homes in the riverside grove community, we were hard it."

Home after home annihilated by the unforgiving CZU Complex fire. Up until a few days ago, Susan Leftwich didn't know if she had a home to come back to.

"When we came around the corner and saw it, it was awesome," she said.

But they would soon learn the havoc wildfires bring even when your home is sparred.

"There was no electricity until yesterday, and it's been four weeks," she continued. "The water is don't drink don't boil."

With the same force they wiped out neighborhoods, the flames claimed one of the town's most precious resources.

District Manager for San Lorenzo Valley Water District Rick Rogers: "Pipeline was in great shape. The only thing that really could impact that pipeline was fire and it did."

The San Lorenzo Valley Water District said the fire burned 100 percent of the city's 7.5-mile water pipeline and ravaged its entire pristine watershed. Rogers said they're navigating the disaster with help from a community that's already been through this.

"You assume water is, you turn on your faucet and there's water, that's not always true."

Water damage is a growing concern for cities across the burning western part of the United States. Rogers and other experts believe as the country faces bigger fires that burn hotter and longer… pipelines will suffer more than they ever have in the past.

Testing and repairs will continue in the months ahead but Rogers is hopeful the water will be safe to drink in a few weeks.

Homeowners now live day to day, hopeful a sense of normalcy will be restored.


Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate.

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist:

  • Face masks or coverings
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Prescriptions or special medications
  • Change of clothing
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
  • Don’t forget pet food and water!

Items to take if time allows:

  • Easily carried valuables
  • Family photos and other irreplaceable items
  • Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
  • Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.

Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night.