West Coast
County of Santa Cruz, CA

CA - Storm Pounds Santa Cruz County Coast, Causes ‘Significant Damage' (with video)

A powerful midweek storm caused "significant damage" across Santa Cruz County, including the coastline where multiple piers took a beating, county officials said Thursday.

In the popular coastal town of Capitola, a section of the wharf collapsed into the ocean as destructive waves pounded the coastline. Nearby Seacliff Pier also suffered "heavy damage," the county said.

Longtime Capitola residents said the wharf is important, not only as an iconic symbol but also as an attraction bringing visitors to the town’s businesses.

"So sad, really. The wharf, that’s so devastating," Capitola resident Kristine Tinger said. "It’ll be closed down for a while for sure.”

Rain runoff and a surging swell converged in Capitola's village, prompting officials to evacuate the area. Businesses in the village sustained "significant damage," but no injuries were reported, police said.

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Read also

Coastal flood advisory issued in Whatcom County during Friday’s high tide, Whatcom News / January 05, 2023

California storm: The risks that remain today, Los Angeles Times / January 05, 2023

'Strongest storm of the season' as rainy weather hits Ventura County, VC Star / January 04, 2023

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"The combination of the swell and then the rain runoff, that kind of put us in the situation that we're in right now," Capitola police Chief Andrew Dally said. "The swell is supposed to drop significantly by tomorrow, so that'll help our current situation, but we're still monitoring the high tide and the rain runoff."

The village will remain closed until crews can assess the damage and determine that it's safe to reopen, police said.

"This is a serious situation," Capitola Mayor Margaux Keiser said. "We want to take every precaution that we can."

The county urged the public to avoid the coast Thursday due to "enormous waves and high tides," calling the conditions "extraordinarily dangerous."

Residents in low-lying coastal areas were instructed to evacuate if they could do so safely. Residents unable to evacuate were instructed to shelter in place and move away from windows facing the ocean.

Sara Froie, who lives along Soquel Creek, which drains into the Pacific Ocean, was among the residents forced to evacuate Thursday morning.

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