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Santa Cruz reeling from bomb cyclone as piers are broken, wharf is evacuated

Santa Cruz waterfront hard-hit by fierce storm; cleanup begins
Santa Cruz waterfront hard-hit by fierce storm; cleanup begins 03:32
The pier at Seacliff is broken after a bomb cyclone hit the Bay Area Wednesday. Santa Cruz County

SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) -- Santa Cruz evacuated its wharf Thursday as the bomb cyclone continued to bear down on the coastal city, massively damaging piers and other structures along the way.

City officials posted about the evacuation on Facebook at around 9 a.m. Thursday morning. They asked that residents stay inside during the storm to stay safe and not to stand outside to watch the storm-drive chaos.

UPDATE: Capitola cleans up extensive bomb cyclone damage, braces for the next storms

"Strong waves are crashing on West Cliff Dr., and West Cliff Dr. will be closed from Pelton to Almar. These intense waves are pushing large rocks onto the road as well. Please be careful near any bodies of water as we still have high wind advisories, and there could be dangerous conditions," city officials added.

Santa Cruz County tweeted pictures Thursday morning of the damage caused by the storm, which showed a chunk of one pier having fallen into the ocean.

Another resident tweeted footage of the Capitola wharf.

One resident in Santa Cruz tweeted a photo of the volleyball courts that were covered with debris.

KION 46 noted that a tidal surge warning was issued along Beach Dr., Las Olas Dr. and Potbelly Beach Dr by the county.

The California Highway Patrol tweeted updates on Capitola and Aptos, noting both areas saw flooding around their beaches.

According to the county, residents should avoid all bodies of water while coastal areas are under a flood warning by the National Weather Service until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Tony Valdez has lived in the Santa Cruz area for 28 years. He walked CBS Bay Area along the trestle to see the incredible damage to the historic Capitola pier.

"Disbelief. I mean, it had to take a huge hit for that damage," said Valdez. "That's why you have to have a lot of respect for the ocean and the water out there."

Jeff Ritchie has lived in Capitola his entire life and came down to see the damage to the pier firsthand.

"Amazing to see the destruction. My son and I were just walking on that wharf last week. It's amazing," said Richie.

David Morris' family has owned Capitola Boat and Bay on the pier since 1998. He was unable to get to his boat shop and evaluate the damage it sustained Thursday. His and other other businesses are now cut off.

"I don't know what the extent of it is when we can't get down there. And I don't know when that's gonna happen," said Morris. "But my heart goes out to everyone in this community. This has been here for more than 90 to 100 years, and to see it in disarray…We will rebuild."

The powerful waves caused a lot of damage to businesses near the waterfront.

You weren't really sure if you'd have to leave or not," said Joshua Kochanek, who owns Capitola restaurant LittleKoe's Beach Bites. "And then every 10 minutes, the waves were coming in and all the damage. It was gnarly. It kept you on your feet."

Repairs were already underway Thursday.

"Our crews are working on it right now. They're working pretty fast," said Capitola Police Chief Andrew Dally. "Right now, we're working on the next system and if we should keep the closures in place or start relaxing them. We're starting relax my closures on Cliff Drive."

As for Valdez, he says he'll be keeping a close eye on the ocean.

"Gotta respect it," he said.

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