Pres. Biden to tour storm damage in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara counties on Thursday

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Thursday, January 19, 2023
Biden to tour storm damage in Santa Cruz Co. on Thursday
President Biden will visit Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties on Thursday to tour communities damaged by recent storms in California.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- President Biden is expected to land at Moffett Field on Thursday afternoon. He'll be in the Bay Area to tour communities damaged by recent storms and learn what additional federal help might be needed.

Already, more than 500 FEMA and other federal personnel have been deployed to support response and recovery operations.

The president's itinerary includes visits to hardest hit Capitola Village and Seacliff State Beach. Both are treasured Santa Cruz County destinations that were devastated in recent storms. Days of high surf, high winds and rain have changed the look of the beloved beach towns.

"There are generations of memories here," Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks executive director Bonny Hawley told ABC7 News about Seacliff State Beach. "And I know this is a very painful time for many people, but there are memories to be made in the future."

Storm damage: Here's before-and-after look at hardest-hit areas in Capitola, Santa Cruz

One of the hardest-hit areas from the devastating bomb cyclone was the Santa Cruz County coastline. Here's a before and after look at the region.

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is a nonprofit operating partner with California State Parks in the Santa Cruz district. The group is known for mobilizing the community after major disasters and is now fundraising to support the state beach.

On Thursday, the president will be accompanied by Governor Newsom. Mr. Biden is in town to assess what additional federal support is needed. He plans to meet with business owners and residents in Capitola. Then visit with first responders, state and local officials at Seacliff State Beach.

The president addressed the region on Tuesday during the Warriors visit to the White House.

"Our heart is with all the families, all the communities who are hurting, and all the brave and heroic first responders," President Biden said.

MORE: 'Capitola Village is open': Focus on recovery, returning to business in hardest-hit coastal areas

The president is expected to survey storm destruction in other areas via helicopter, on his way to the coast.

In Santa Clara County, Darrell Ray, the Deputy Director for the county's Office of Emergency Management, said help is on the way.

"The county does cost estimates and confirms those estimates with the state and federal government," he explained. "Then we start project worksheets and that's how we get that stuff repaired."

Ray said just this week, the county got the Small Business Administration to provide small business loans to impacted businesses.

During the parade of storms, parts of Gilroy suffered major flooding on the freeway and surrounding farmland.

VIDEO: Homes, highway hit by major flooding in Gilroy through height of evening commute

Parts of Highway 101 south of Gilroy were closed following a major storm that swept through the Bay Area, causing massive traffic delays.

"We're working with the Department of Agriculture here in the county to identify and assess, and then deliver resources to farmers impacted in the South County," Ray explained.

He said the county has suffered an estimated $27 million in storm damage, mostly to public infrastructure. The county is posting information on ways homeowners, small businesses and beyond can get the help they need.

In comparison to the storm damage suffered in 2017, Ray pointed to great improvement in coordination between the jurisdictions. Commending Valley Water and the City of San Jose for their efforts related to preparation and flooding response.

For Santa Clara County resources, click here.

ABC7 News reached out to Santa Cruz County officials who say they are working to finalize details of the president's visit.

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