Santa Cruz County officials estimate more than $28 million in damages from storms

Crews face a landslide in the Santa Cruz Mountains
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Costs for unincorporated areas are so far estimated to be more than $21 million in road damages and more than $6.8 million in damages to at least 16 park sites and three coastal access park sites. In addition, officials estimate more than $1.2 million in damages to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District. Lookout has yet to confirm damages from cities. The estimates so far don’t include damages that occurred since Sunday, nor damages in cities or other entities.

Unincorporated areas of the county received more than $28 million in damages from storms between Dec. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 7, said Dave Reid, director of the Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience.

The estimates so far don’t include damages that occurred since Sunday, and they don’t include damages from cities or other entities.

Costs for unincorporated areas are so far estimated to be more than $21 million in road damages and more than $6.8 million in damages to at least 16 park sites and three coastal access park sites.

In addition, officials estimate more than $1.2 million in damages to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District. Lookout has yet to confirm damages from cities.

Damage to Seacliff State Beach in Aptos.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz County Undersheriff Chris Clark said the impact and nature of the storms since December is unprecedented.

“Soquel Village flooding twice in a matter of eight days. It’s just incredible,” he said on Tuesday. “The storm surge that we saw impacting Beach Drive, Las Olas and the city of Capitola, and Santa Cruz — really unprecedented.”

Matt Machado, Santa Cruz County Public Works director, said as a result of storm damage, there are 11 sites on roads that have permanent, longer-term damage that need major repairs.

“Through each storm we saw upwards of 45 storm damaged roads closed due to trees, wires, landslides, various storm damage related reasons,” he said. “And then the next day the crews would get out there and they cleared that up and got those roads open. They’ve been working nonstop trying to get those roads open.”

Clark highlighted the unique challenges of this event and how to move forward with the forecast for rain in the coming days.

“To think that we had evacuations on New Year’s Eve, we had evacuations again Jan. 3 and again Jan. 5 for the storm surge, and then evacuations again as recently as yesterday,” he said. “We’re gonna continue to watch the weather as we go forward. Knowing just how odd this whole event is, I think the real question is, how does this play out in the future?”

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