Drone surveys winter storm impact to San Lorenzo River

Drone surveys San Lorenzo River

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - UPDATE: The DJI Phantom 4 Pro snaked back and forth on the San Lorenzo River to get visuals of how the winter storms have changed its landscape.

"We got very high water and we have a numerical model that we want to compare what our model says against what actually occurred in nature," said Mark Dettle, Director for City of Santa Cruz Public Works. 

The Santa Cruz Public Works Department said during the drought the river did not get high flows of water, so sediment accumulated. The intense downpours earlier this year have washed out clay, sand and mud that was once buried.

"All that material has been moved out,” said Dettle. “What we'll do from this drone area, we'll be able to estimate how much material actually got moved out of this segment.”

The drone will fly up about 250 feet into the air, taking well over 1000 photos on 80 acres of land.

"High quality images that's going to be stitched together to produce a 2D map, elevation map and a 3D model," said David Levy of Levy Media Works. "The drone can get the straight down view, but also hover in place. The ability to hover and get the straight down view, there's no other tool that can get that type of tool."

Officials said they will use the data collected from the flight for educational purposes, predictions and to qualify for FEMA certification.

"If it can carry a 100 year flood, carrying the flows, that will give us a certification and then FEMA will certify the levees,” said Dettle.

Which means when residents go to refinance their mortgages, they'll be out of the flood zone, so they will not be required to pay for flood insurance.

"Anything that saves money for people is better, so it's a good idea," said Santa Cruz resident Jordan Murtha.

ORIGINAL STORY: The San Lorenzo River bed is getting its close up, as a drone captures images from the sky, documenting the impact of recent winter storms.

The City of Santa Cruz is working with a local drone company, Levy Media Works, to capture pictures and video of the river between Highway 1 and the San Lorenzo River Trestle Bridge.

City leaders said they're trying to get a bird's eye view of those changes to the river bed, to figure out what work needs to be done during the city's winter storm assessment.

KION's Maya Holmes will have more on this story at 6 p.m.


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