Down the Mountain


Mallika Singh

Throughout the winter, California got a significant amount of rainfall, ultimately lifting the drought warning across the state, according to the Los Angeles Times. The hills are green and the reservoirs are full and, in some cases, even overflowing. According to The Mercury News, there has been a record amount of rain this year, compared to the past 122 years. However, because of this, there has been an increase in mudslides, especially throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. Roads have been severely damaged and were eventually closed, making it difficult for a lot of MVHS staff to get over the mountain to work every day.

Science teacher Andrew Goldenkranz is one of these staff members. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains and typically has a long commute. He explained that the mudslides have caused him to travel a roundabout route to school, making his one hour commute take two-and-a-half hours.

According to the SJ Mercury News, construction workers had to use a spider, a large bulldozer, to remove debris from the road after a particularly large mudslide. Because of these dangerous conditions, both Highway 17 and Old San Jose road were closed at certain areas or reduced to one or two lanes.  

Biology and AVID teacher, Pooya Hajjarian, had similar problems to Goldenkranz in that on some nights he wasn’t even able to get home at all and had to stay with friends closer to the school. On some days, though he got home from work, he was unable to get back in the morning and his student teacher had to fill in for him.

“My experience has been rough in that sometimes when it’s going to take two to three hours to go home, I just don’t go home,” Hajjarian said. “I stay with a friend or family here.”

Goldenkranz, however, does not have the option to not get home as he has family staying with him at home. The mudslides have been a strain on both of them. Hajjarian’s student teacher Kenneth Gan was also affected by the mudslides. Although it was indirect, Gan had to take over multiple classes in place of Hajjarian on certain mornings.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 6.58.57 PM
Flash flooding in Santa Cruz, CA

Freshman Afreen Azad explained that Hajjarian, though he tries to stay with friends, has not been able to get to school a couple times due to the mudslides and damaged roads. Azad felt that even with Mr. Gan, however, classes have continued as normal.

“[Mr. Hajjarian] said that the highways were closed and that there was a lot of water in the streets,” Azad said. “[Classes with Mr. Gan] were pretty much the same; there’s no difference between them.”

Hajjarian and Goldenkranz both have been affected by the mudslides. The damaged roads have made it increasingly hard to get to school. Goldenkranz explained that, in addition to clearing the debris from the road, they will have to completely fix entire sections of the mountain and possibly hold up the rocks and mud to the side since a lot of the mountain has collapsed. Construction crews are working to get things back in order.