Orange County Canyon Areas Face Voluntary Evacuation This Christmas as Winter Storm Approaches

By Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.
December 24, 2021 Updated: December 24, 2021

As a winter storm is entering Orange County two days before Christmas, a voluntary evacuation warning has been issued for residents residing in the Silverado, Williams, and Modjeska Canyons effective Dec. 23.

“Canyon residents are strongly encouraged to prepare and evacuate … especially those with disabilities, access and/or functional needs, and canyon residents with large animals,” the County of Orange said in the statement.

The warning comes after the county issued a short-term mandatory evacuation order for the canyon area on Dec. 14, during the first heavy rainfall of the season.

While the evacuation warning issued Wednesday night is currently voluntary, some residents are beginning to pack their bags and head out of the canyon.

Byron Remeyer, a resident of Modjeska Canyon, was not too concerned about potential mudslides occurring amid the winter rainfall but planned on leaving the area in the evening of Dec. 24 as the rain continued.

Remeyer also left his home in the canyon last week when the Mandatory Evacuation Order was in place, he told The Epoch Times on Thursday.

With Christmas approaching, some residents plan on staying inside their homes despite the voluntary evacuation notice.

Jeff Morisette, a resident of Modjeska Canyon and a reserve firefighter in the community, told law enforcement visiting the area Thursday morning that his family would be staying.

“We refused the evacuation,” he told The Epoch Times. “My family and I are staying home for now.”

Morisette recently moved to the area nearly a year and a half ago with his then-pregnant wife.

Since moving to the canyon and welcoming a son, Morisette and his family encountered the unexpected Silverado and Bond Fire outbreak in December 2020, followed by mudslides in March 2021.

Epoch Times Photo
The Bond Fire, burning in Silverado Canyon, Calif., on Dec. 3, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Past fires and mudslides encouraged Morisette to join the local volunteer fire department in the canyon to assist the community with calls regarding fires or floods in the area.

“It’s a really tight-knit community,” Morisette said. “Everyone helps each other [and] looks out for each other.”

As Morisette remains on call in case of an incident, he observed the majority of residents in Modjeska Canyon staying in their homes.

When the power is shut off or goes out, the community has an internal radio system used for emergencies.

As the rain is foreseen to continue sporadically until next week, residents anticipate being on alert for mudslides for years to come as the soil in the canyon remains lose due to the 2020 fires, Morisette said.

“I think the biggest question is: How long is this going to go on for?” Morisette said.

Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.