Bay Area storms: Capitola begins to dig out amid 'absolutely devastating' damage
Oceanfront restaurants red-tagged, wharf indefinitely closed in beloved Santa Cruz County locale as another storm looms
The scenic seaside village of Capitola, a resort destination on Monterey Bay for generations of tourists since the 1860s, began a challenging new chapter in its colorful history Friday, digging out from the worst storm damage in 40 years. Well-known waterfront restaurants sat behind emergency fencing in various states of damage from storm surges that broke through windows and undermined building foundations. 'You've got iconic locations that were significantly damaged, locally owned businesses that are red-tagged, and a wharf that will take millions to rebuild to its previous state. 'The rebuilding process and healing the emotional scars will take a long time.' But the ocean didn't wait. A powerful storm pounded the West Coast this weeks that uprooted trees and cut power for tens of thousands on the heels of record rainfall over the weekend. Another powerful storm is set to hit Northern California over the weekend and is expected to bring flooding rains. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) A powerful storm pounded the West Coast this weeks that uprooted trees and cut power for tens of thousands on the heels of record rainfall over the weekend. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) A powerful storm pounded the West Coast this week that uprooted trees and cut power for tens of thousands on the heels of record rainfall over the weekend. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
In a bitter irony, on Friday, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Monterey, announced that after two years of trying, he had secured the city's request of $3.5 million to fully fund the job when President Biden signed a federal spending bill on Dec. 29. 'These are special places, and they deserve the type of attention we need to give them to rebuild,' he said. City officials were worried about another powerful storm expected to hit Sunday night. Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, one day after they were bombarded by storm-fueled, high tide breakers in Capitola, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Three miles down the coast, destruction more serious than previously thought was coming to light at Seacliff State Beach, another popular attraction for thousands of visitors a year. 'The picnic tables. The hookups. The asphalt. The restrooms were severely damaged. We saw inundation. Doors were broken off with driftwood. The tide came all the way up to the base of the cliff. It destroyed a good portion of the seawall.' Half of the park's wooden pier fell into the ocean, and the 1920s era 'cement ship,' wrecked by storms in 2017 and before, was further battered. The road into New Brighton State Beach nearby also was damaged, Spohrer added. Both parks remained closed until at least next week. Five were yellow-tagged, with city officials allowing limited entry for the proprietors of Tacos Moreno, My Thai Beach, Pizza My Heart, Margaritaville and Capitola Bar & Grill. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 'Our staff are losing income every day.' Paradise Beach Grille's stepping-stone entrance was pushed up and broken, while inside large portions of drywall had buckled and fallen onto the furniture and floor. This week's storm was so powerful that the broader job planned -- new wooden decking, new fiberglass pilings, a wider wharf and restrooms -- could well have been damaged also, he said, particularly if the construction, estimated to take nine months, had been underway during the storm. 'Whether or not we were lucky or unlikely we did it that way, I don't know. But it's where we are.' 'I think we are going to get it done faster than anyone expects. Capitola has pulled through before.'