Sen. John Laird has seen it all over the better part of a half-century in public service in Santa Cruz County.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Laird’s long view on disasters, Biden visit and a more inclusive response

Good morning, dear readers. It’s Tuesday, Jan. 17, and the forecast is calling for — get this — sunny skies around Santa Cruz County, with highs in the 50s. And other than a weaker system coming through Wednesday p.m., we’re looking to be mostly dry for the foreseeable future.

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John Laird has been around for all manner of disasters in Santa Cruz County, and that long view informs how the current state senator sees the recent storm siege and its aftermath. “There’s really gonna be tough decisions,” Laird tells Mark Conley. “Tough decisions in Capitola, tough decisions all along West Cliff, tough decisions involving the pier by the [cement] ship.”

There remains much to digest in the storms’ aftermath, but the National Weather Service has one eye-popping statistic: Some 36 inches of rain fell in the San Lorenzo Valley in the past three weeks. Max Chun talked to an NWS meteorologist for details.

And after declaring a major disaster declaration for Santa Cruz County over the weekend, President Joe Biden is due on the Central Coast on Thursday to survey storm damage, the White House announced late Monday. We’ve got the latest on that and much more in our Santa Cruz County Storm Central.

Storm aftermath is also on the mind of organizer and former Santa Cruz mayor candidate Joy Schendledecker, who in our Community Voices opinion section challenges local officials to learn from past experience and rework emergency response plans to account for underserved groups.

Lots of headlines, so let’s go there now.

Paradise with a price: John Laird’s long view of dealing with the aftermath of natural disaster

Sen. John Laird during Friday's tour of Seacliff State Beach.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Before he was state Sen. John Laird, he was the County of Santa Cruz’s John Laird, and before that, he was Santa Cruz mayor, city councilmember and staffer John Laird. They were formative years for observing and responding to disasters. And they taught him perspective both on accepting nature’s random, inevitable penance and finding ways to make this uniquely disaster-prone county as ready as possible for the next lashing. Read what he told Mark Conley.

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2023 storms lesson: Santa Cruz County needs a better, more inclusive emergency response plan

The encampment along the San Lorenzo River benchlands flooded Monday
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Community organizer and former Santa Cruz mayoral candidate Joy Schendledecker sees a glaring problem with our community’s emergency response system. It is inadequate and does not, she writes in Lookout’s Community Voices opinion section, “include anyone explicitly representing the unhoused, non-English-speaking, elder or disabled communities.” She challenges our officials to do better, to learn from past mistakes, and to work more collectively and transparently to help those most in need. All of us, she insists, might one day need these services. Read her full op-ed here.

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You’re all caught up as we head into this abbreviated workweek, but be sure to keep tabs on all that’s going on around Santa Cruz County by following Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also offer breaking news alerts, which you can sign up for here, not to mention a stable of newsletters that also includes Lily Belli on Food, hitting inboxes in mere hours.

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Enjoy the Tuesday sunshine — to say we’ve earned it is a bit of an understatement.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz