A Powerful midweek storm County officials said Thursday that several ships were struck, causing “significant damage” across Santa Cruz County, including along the coast.
In the popular seaside town of Capitola, part of the wharf collapsed into the sea as destructive waves battered the coastline. The nearby Seacliff Pier suffered “severe damage,” the county said.
Longtime Capitola residents said the wharf is important not only as an iconic symbol, but also as an attraction that draws visitors to the city’s businesses.
“Very sad, really. The wharf, it’s very devastating,” said Capitola resident Christine Tinker. “It will definitely be closed for a while.”
Rainwater and rising floodwaters in the village of Capitola prompted authorities to evacuate the area. Businesses in the village suffered “significant damage” but no injuries, police said.
“The combination of the swell and the rain put us in the situation we’re in right now,” Capitola Police Chief Andrew Daly said. “The swell should subside significantly by tomorrow, so that should help our current situation, but we’re still monitoring high tide and rain flow.”
The village will remain closed until crews assess the damage and determine if it is safe to reopen, police said.
“It’s a serious situation,” said Capitola Mayor Marcoux Kaiser. “We want to take all the precautions we can.”
The county urged the public to avoid beaches on Thursday due to “large waves and high tides,” calling conditions “extraordinarily dangerous.”
Residents of low-lying coastal areas were advised to evacuate if safe to do so. Residents unable to evacuate were advised to stay in place and stay away from ocean-facing windows.
Sarah Froy, who lives on Soquel Creek, which drains into the Pacific Ocean, was one of the residents forced to evacuate Thursday morning.
“The waves are huge,” Froy said. “They’re the flood guards, sending all the boards and planks down the river course.”
Many residents returned to salvage what they could from their flooded homes, and the danger remains.
“You don’t want to lose your life, but you want to save as much as you can,” Froy said.