Who will pay for Capitola flood damage costs?


There is a post-disaster camaraderie in Capitola. It's a mood that almost defies the cleanup at hand, and the only crack in the can-do attitude is over who will pay the bill.

Ashley Hubback owns three buildings hit by flood waters, but as many people are finding out, the insurance companies don't necessarily see it that way.

"This had nothing to do with an act of God, the creek rising and us getting too much rain, this had to do pure and simply because the pipes were broken and the culvert washed out," said Hubback.

A wall of water rushed into homes and businesses not once, but twice. The first wave hit Thursday night and a second Saturday morning.

Peggy Ames blames the city itself. She points to an old 60-inch galvanized steel drainage pipe at the Pacific Cove mobile home park which the city owns.

"The city knew the problem was there and they didn't take care of it before," said Ames. "So yeah, I do blame the city."

The mobile home owner directly over the broken pipe has already filed a six-figure claim with Capitola. David Dirvon's home has already been demolished and hauled away. The city has crews working to replace the pipe, but is not ready to accept the blame. The county has an easement on the north side of the road.

"There's about... 100x100-foot wide pool of water about 25 feet deep that developed in the county facility and there's reports of a loud bang that happened and that that pool of water drained in about two minutes," said Capitola spokesperson Dereck Johnson.

The debate over who is at fault comes as city leaders predict the cleanup and repair costs will hit an estimated $10 million. Who pays what will likely be answered long after the mud is gone.

"That is way more overwhelming than feeling the blame game, but of course we'll see whatever happens and is appropriate and is fair, you know," said business owner Harleen Rana.

Capitola has declared a state of emergency. Tuesday county supervisors are expected to lay the groundwork for state and federal funding. Supervisors will hold a special meeting to vote on whether to ask Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a countywide state of emergency.

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