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University of California Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz: Strength in Preparedness

The CZU Lightning Complex caused MBEP member University of California, Santa Cruz officials to quickly evacuate more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff members because of the fire’s rapid growth. The emergency order was mandated on Aug. 20.

The Seaside Company and UC Santa Cruz established an evacuation center for students and employees in the Cocoanut Grove at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, with others taken to the University Town Center in Santa Cruz or to local hotels, or moved to residence halls at San Jose State University. Additional evacuation centers to serve the community were opened at Santa Cruz County Fairground in Watsonville and Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

While firefighters managed to keep the fire away from campus and the City of Santa Cruz, the full impact of fire damage to the UC Santa Cruz community will take time to establish. But with a workforce of nearly 5,000 people— many living in or near impacted areas —  some have lost their homes and hundreds forced to evacuate, wrote Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer in a letter to the campus community. “It is clear that it will be immense and widespread.”

The campus established dedicated web pages to help those impacted by the fire and to offer help:

A regularly updated fire web page includes current information on the status of campus operations; information about resources; links to external fire information; as well as links to the “How to get help” page, which includes housing options, which is important, as roughly 77,000 people have been evacuated in Santa Cruz County as a result of this fire, and the “How to give help” page with details on the most effective ways to support the UCSC community. While there has been a massive outpouring of material support — and items still needed are listed on the page — the best way to directly help those impacted by the fire is through a donation to the 2020 UCSC Wildfire Relief Fund, the disaster-relief fund championed by the UC Santa Cruz Foundation and the Alumni Association.
Photo courtesy of UC Santa Cruz.