Yesterday’s White House press briefing revealed that President Joe Biden will visit Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties today (Thursday, Jan. 19th). The president’s visit will include meetings with first responders and local business owners affected by the storms, and will include stops at Capitola Village and Seacliff State Beach, according to NBC Bay Area. The president will be accompanied by FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, CA governor Gavin Newsom, and other officials.
“The President has been closely monitoring the situation in California over the past several weeks and is being regularly briefed by his Homeland Security team,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “Throughout this time, he has remained in close touch with the governor and also local officials on the ground.”
On January 14th, Biden issued a major disaster declaration for California providing federal funds for “Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, and Other Needs Assistance at 75% of the total eligible costs.” On Jan. 18th, the president increased the level of funding to cover 100% of eligible costs for the first 60 days. The declaration includes Merced, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.
Santa Cruz County officials have estimated damages to exceed $55 million and rising, and Santa Clara County has estimated damages at $27 million.
Following the storm at the beginning of January, beaches in Santa Cruz were strewn with uprooted trees and debris. Within the first week of the year, both the Capitola and Seacliff piers suffered significant damage and massive chunks were taken out of public walkways at Seacliff State Beach and West Cliff Drive. Capitola Village businesses will be on a marathon recovery effort for the foreseeable future, including Zelda’s on the Beach, a popular restaurant right on the water that was hit especially hard.
On January 6th, artist and drone photographer Brighton Denevan was seen creating a large-scale sand drawing on the beach in front of Soquel Creek and Capitola Village. It featured a geometrical pattern with the word “PERSEVERE” repeating across the sand in front of the Stockton Ave bridge.
If your business or property was affected by the California storms, you can learn about how to apply for assistance at the FEMA website.