Capitola in state of emergency after storm knocks out power, historic pier

Residents of Capitola were still without power on Friday afternoon, but a mandatory evacuation order was lifted as of 5:31 p.m., after the atmospheric river slammed their coastal city in Santa Cruz County, where their historic pier was torn apart in the heavy rains and wind.  An estimated 50 businesses and about 350 residents in a two square block area are impacted. 

The city council met at 4 p.m. Friday to discuss the emergency and ask for the state to reimburse the city for repairs.  Capitola Police Chief Andrew Dally said at an afternoon news conference that the crews are trying to fence off the most damaged areas which would allow the mandatory evacuation orders to be lifted. The goal is to have the order lifted sometime Friday afternoon or evening. 

According to city documents, estimates for damage caused by the storm on Wednesday is already about $1.5 million.

On Friday morning, the city was blanketed in dark. Restaurants and businesses were closed. 

Business owners in Capitola Village were helping city crews clean up water damage and debris that washed in from the ocean when waves topped the seawall for several hours Thursday morning.   "It is shocking. You don’t think stuff like this could happen and then, all of a sudden, the next day there it is," said Matt Aurthur, a Capitola Village business owner.  Arthur was helping to shovel debris from the common areas around shuttered stores. 

After the evacuation order was lifted, officials wrote in a statement: "All structures within the evacuation zone must be inspected by a City building inspector prior to reentry.  Inspectors went block by block through the evacuation zone to complete inspections."

The most notable piece of damage in Capitola Village is found at the wharf. Part of the boardwalk was washed away in the storm, and pieces were pushed right into storefronts of the beach side businesses.

Capitola City Manager Jamie Goldstin said at a news conference Thursday that the water levels rose much higher than expected.

PG&E crews are now waiting to get the OK from city emergency services to come in and start restoring power.

Many of these business owners don't expect to reopen any time soon with more storms on the way this weekend.

"There's significant weather still coming," Capitola Police Chief Andy Dally said Friday. "With significant rainfall."