Downtown Soquel after the rain.
Downtown Soquel is muddy and its storefronts lined with sandbags, after a weekend rain storm. Even more rain is on the way Wednesday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Local)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: A storm guide, a former foster youth gives back, and the latest on food from Lily Belli

Good morning! It’s Wednesday, Jan. 4. Are you prepared for yet another round of storms? The third atmospheric river since Christmas is set to hit the coast this morning. This one is expected to be even more powerful that the deluge that hit the region on New Year’s Eve. Stay safe and avoid unnecessary travel, but be prepared to heed any evacuation orders.

Now onto the news for this wet Wednesday.

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Lookout correspondents will be bringing you the latest updates on the massive storm that descended upon Santa Cruz County early this morning. Local officials were readying for the brunt of the damage to be apparent by mid-day. On Tuesday night, some areas of the county, including neighborhoods in Watsonville, ordered residents to evacuate because of high flood risk. Read all of our updates on our Santa Cruz County Storm Central.

Also, check out our guide on helpful resources and tips to prepare for the storm.

Our Unsung Santa Cruz series wraps up today with a profile of Ooli Ahanu Strongheart, 25, a former foster child who now gives back by helping youth transitioning out of foster care and homelessness. Read Mark Conley’s story here.

Lastly, Lily Belli brings you the latest on the region’s food scene. This week, chef Jessica Yarr dishes on The Grove, her upcoming café in downtown Felton, and we say goodbye to two long-standing restaurants.

Santa Cruz County Storm Central: Read the latest updates on Wednesday’s storm

Santa Cruz beaches were busy with people parsing through the debris left behind by heavy storms.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Another atmospheric river arrived early Wednesday morning. Keep checking back on our Santa Cruz County Storm Central as Lookout correspondents will stay close to the county’s emergency operations centers to bring you the latest through the day.

MORE STORM COVERAGE: Lookout’s guide to preparing for the coming storm

Recovering from weekend floods, Santa Cruz County prepares for possibility of more severe storm on Wednesday

Lily Belli on Food: New café The Grove coming to Felton; goodbye to Chill Out Café and Golden City Chinese

Chef Jessica Yarr with son Jesse and partner Brian Harker in front of her upcoming café, The Grove, in Felton.
(Courtesy of Jessica Yarr)

Chef Jessica Yarr of Chicken Foot and the Brunch Shift is working on opening The Grove, her first brick-and-mortar café, in Felton, her hometown. And after 25 years and 22 years, respectively, Pleasure Point burrito shack Chill Out Café and family-owned Golden City Chinese in Santa Cruz have closed. Read more from Lily Belli here.

Unsung Santa Cruz: With a name like Strongheart, showing other vulnerable youth how to thrive comes naturally

Ooli Ahanu StrongHeart
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Local)

It’s been a decade since Ooli Strongheart, then 15, found a safe haven for transition-age youth (TAY) that helped fill in many of the missing gaps from a childhood devoid of love and support, filled with trauma and fear. Soon to be a UC Santa Cruz graduate, the former foster and homeless youth is passionate about giving back to the program — now aptly known as the ‘Thrive Hive’ — that has helped them recognize their purpose and potential in this world. Read Mark Conley’s profile of Ooli Strongheart here.

UNSUNG SANTA CRUZ: Lookout highlights regular folks doing great things.


toad fitness group

Santa Cruz County Job Board

One more thing: Lookout is working on an ongoing series exploring working life and we’d love your input. How did you get your job? What do you love most about it? What are the biggest challenges? What do students and recent graduates need to know about how to get into your industry? Share your stories and career advice with us — email us at and put “career advice” in the subject line.

There’s more to come from Lookout this week. Stay current by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and by signing up here for breaking news alerts and for our other newsletters, including the specially curated Sunday Reads.

Once again, our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tamsin McMahon
Lookout Santa Cruz