A violent midweek storm caused “significant damage” throughout Santa Cruz County, including the coast where several piers were slammed, county officials said Thursday.
In the popular seaside town of Capitola, part of the wharf collapsed into the ocean as destructive waves slammed the shore. The nearby Seacliff Pier also suffered “severe damage,” the county said.
Longtime residents of Capitola said the wharf is important, not only as an iconic symbol but also as an attraction that brings visitors to the city’s shops.
“So sad, really. The wharf, it’s so devastating,” said Kristine Tinger of Capitola. “It will be closed for a while for sure.”
The storm caused significant damage throughout the county and along the coast, including severe damage to the Capitola and Seacliff piers. High tide and big surf are a dangerous combination – avoid the shore. pic.twitter.com/XiyuJBQUFB
— Santa Cruz County (@sccounty) January 5, 2023
Runoff rain and a rolling swell collided in Capitola’s village, prompting officials to evacuate the area. Businesses in the village sustained “significant damage” but no injuries were reported, police said.
“The combination of the swell and the rain runoff has put us in the situation we are in right now,” Capitola Police Chief Andrew Dally said. “The swell is expected to recede significantly by tomorrow, which will help our current situation, but we are still monitoring high tide and rain runoff.”
The village will remain closed until crews can assess the damage and determine it is safe to reopen, police said.
“This is a serious situation,” Capitola Mayor Margaux Keizer said. “We want to take all possible precautions.”
🚨 Numerous closures 🚧 today due to high tide. Here’s a view with @CapitolaPolice at the Stockton Ave Bridge over Soquel Creek. Please be extremely careful near the ocean today 🌊. pic.twitter.com/og5tFdAGhs
— CHP Santa Cruz (@CHPscrz) January 5, 2023
The county urged the public to avoid the coast Thursday due to “enormous waves and tides,” calling the conditions “extraordinarily dangerous.”
Residents in low-lying coastal areas have been ordered to evacuate if they can safely do so. Residents unable to evacuate were told to protect themselves in place and stay away from windows overlooking the ocean.
Sara Froie, who lives along Soquel Creek, which empties into the Pacific Ocean, was among the residents who had to be evacuated Thursday morning.
“The waves are huge,” said Froie. “They take all the flood guards, all the boards, and they send the boards down the river path.”
Many residents came back to rescue what they could from their flooded homes, although the risk still loomed.
“You don’t want to lose your life, but you want to save as much as you can,” Froie said.