Significant storm damage across Santa Cruz Co., cleanup underway with more rain ahead

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Friday, January 6, 2023
Significant storm damage across Santa Cruz Co. with more rain ahead
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The Capitola Wharf was severely damaged by large waves and the high tide which have also closed down Santa Cruz beaches and the pier.

CAPITOLA, Calif. (KGO) -- It isn't unusual to see crowds in Capitola, coming to capture the area's beauty. However, Thursday evening, any photo or video taken told the story of a powerful storm.

Even the picturesque seaside complex of colorful houses that line Capitola Beach took a blow.

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"There are 8-foot logs that went through the doors of these houses and then just tore the houses apart inside," long-time Capitola resident, Dan Barker told ABC7 News. "There's a lot of damage there. I would say, they may lose five or six of those - I'm guessing - unless they rebuild."

Barker was out among the crowd of curious on-lookers, Thursday evening. Many noting, the worst began with high tide at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning.

"What we saw at that point was water coming out of the banks of Soquel Creek and inundating peoples' homes, inundating businesses in the Capitola Village," city manager Jamie Goldstein said.

By Thursday night, businesses on the ocean-side of the village showed significant damage.

A resident shared drone video, showing what's left of the once expansive outdoor patio at Zelda's on the Beach. In the distance, the Capitola Pier could be seen, split by high surf.

ABC7 News connected with Dharmesh Patel who owns the Capitola Hotel.

"Yesterday evening we got the actual evacuation notice," he explained. "So that's when the employees locked up and left."

Patel said there were a few guests in-house, who planned to stay at the hotel through the weekend. Fortunately, Patel said they agreed to stay at his other nearby properties instead.

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Good news Thursday, Patel said his hotel had been green tagged. Bad news, without power and utilities, he anticipates there's still long way to go until hotel guests are able to return and business is able to resume.

"Unfortunately, the restaurants across from us weren't as fortunate," Patel said. "A lot of those are red tagged or yellow tagged. So, it's going to be a lot of work and time for those businesses to come back."

Of course, Capitola wasn't the only area devastated. High waves and damage also shut down parts of the Santa Cruz Wharf. Additionally, the world famous "Cement Ship" in Aptos that's been sunken into the sea ground for decades - a majority of the pier that once led up to it is now gone.

"Everything came together the wrong way," Barker described. "The big waves, the king tide, the wind, the rain. Everything just, you know, it was the perfect storm."

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Though there has been major damage to property, there haven't been any reports of injuries.

People can go to https://www.sccroadclosure.org/ for information about road closures.

Residents can use https://aware.zonehaven.com/ to find out if they are in an evacuation area.

Watch the latest AccuWeather forecast and take a look at recent weather stories and videos.

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