California races to recover before next round of storms

The deadly bomb cyclone that crashed into California last week will not be the end of dangerous storm conditions, as the Golden State rushed to recover before another intense storm arrived days later.

Storm impacts, which began Sunday evening and are set to last through Tuesday, include life-threatening flooding, landslides, extensive property damages and risks of dam or levee failures. Anticipating another round of troubling weather, officials in the state are focusing on preparing for the incursion while taking stock of what damages have already been done.

"What we're doing right now is using our latest technology to do a clean sweep of California to see what did this past wet weather did to us as a state, and then how can we anticipate resources, sending them to areas that are needing them the most," Diana Crofts-Pelayo, assistant director of the California Office of Crisis Communication and Public Affairs, told AccuWeather.

One of those areas will be Santa Cruz County, where Director of the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience David Reid said damages from last week's storm are "pretty significant." The threat of landslides in the county forced the evacuation of homes on Wednesday, while floodwaters from surging ocean waves came into nearby roads and moved perilously close to homes in beachside areas.


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"Around the county we've had impacts from landslides and debris flows, we've had our coastal impacts that a lot of folks have seen on social media, and we've had some flooding in our south county area impacting hundreds and hundreds of residents already," Reid told AccuWeather.

In the Santa Cruz County town of Aptos, a wave crashed into a pier, sending the structure into the sea. Rough surf also devastated a village in the county's city of Capitola. Chain link fencing was set up Friday in the village to protect businesses facing the ocean, with a local reporter remarking that the damage has been "unbelievable."

The pier leading to the Cement Ship in Aptos, California was severely damaged by a storm surge on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. (Shmuel Thaler/MediaNews Group/Santa Cruz Sentinel via Getty Images)

One of the businesses facing the ocean, Bay Bar and Grill, had immense damage to the restaurant's interior, so much so that owner Patrick Lynn received a yellow tag from the city, meaning he needed special permission from the city's building department to go inside.

"I thought 'Friday night I'm gonna go in and work,'" Lynn told ABC7 about the situation at his restaurant. "Not only is that not going to happen, now it's not going to happen for a long time, maybe ever."

Reid said the county will be working with property and business owners in the coming weeks to support them in the recovery process, as well as evaluate the full extent of damages.

"Hopefully it's something that can be mitigated easily and isn't something that requires a full construction rebuild of a home or business," he said.

Before the next round of storms began to hit, the county's focus was on clearing drainage systems and infrastructure of debris, with vast amounts of rain expected to hit the drainage systems once again. The county's other focus has been on livelihood after two fatalities were reported in California on Wednesday. A 19-year-old woman from Fairfield, California, was killed when her car hydroplaned on a partially flooded road and crashed into a utility pole, and a 1-year-old was killed in Sonoma County when a redwood tree fell on a mobile home.

"We want to make sure that people remain prepared to evacuate, aware of our alert warning systems that are out there, be ready to respond if we need to get you out of harm's way," Reid said.

A car drives through a section of roadway that is beginning to flood as rain begins to fall on January 07, 2023, in Mill Valley, California. The San Francisco Bay Area continues to get drenched by powerful atmospheric river events that have brought high winds and flooding rains. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Commenting that the state hasn't seen storm damage such as this prior week's "in a long time," Crofts-Pelayo stressed the serious nature of the situation as storms prepare to roll in yet again.

"If we were on the East Coast, folks would liken this to hurricane preparation ... we want them to know that this is no joke, we want them to stay off the roads if they start seeing really intense rain or wind, and just to ensure that their family is safe," she said.

Wind damages were noted as the primary cause of a startling rise in power outages Sunday morning, particularly in the state's capitol area. In Sacramento County, more than 300,000 customers were without power in the overnight hours, with state outages topping 500,000 after being under 50,000 Saturday afternoon, per PowerOutage.US. As of Monday morning, over 110,000 customers remained without power in the state.

Outages will be another concern, with Crofts-Pelayo urging residents to have emergency food and water resources available in case of a long-term outage, as well as having access to flashlights.

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