‘Capitola Village is open’: Focus on recovery, return to business in hardest hit coastal areas

CAPITOLA, Calif. (KGO) — Across Santa Cruz County, the focus is on recovering and reopening businesses after recent storms destroyed oceanfront properties and left others in the dark for days.

Even with more rain ahead, many in the worst-hit coastal towns are looking for visitors to come, shop and show support.

On Friday night, a band playing at the Cork and Fork Capitol sang, “This is my job! It’s a good job!” Lyrics that many across Capitola Village are hoping to hear soon.

Although there were fewer people in the city, the sight was welcome.

MORE: A high wave warning calls for evacuation warnings along the Santa Cruz County coast

However, owner Cathy Bently admitted: “It feels like a slap in the neck. It feels like you can’t catch your breath.”

Bently described struggling with weeks of bad weather after years of the pandemic. However, she wants to change something. Bently is raising money for the Santa Cruz County Disaster Fund and has set up a home for those who have relied on the hardest hit businesses.

“This is going to make me cry,” she told ABC7 News. “A lot of musicians who play here, play there. So I feel a responsibility to help and provide a place where people can come.”

The overall goal is to get people to come. Many believe that there is a misconception that the village is closing after seeing the badly damaged properties on the coast. However, the posted sign said “Capitola Village is open” loud and clear.

VIDEO: Storm damage: Here’s a before-and-after look at the hardest hit areas in Capitola, Santa Cruz

“We had a BIA business meeting this morning with a lot of business owners and it was really moving just to like, touch base with everyone and make sure everyone is okay,” said Monet Salon Capitol owner, Julie Monet. “And where do we go from here.”

Katalina’s by the Sea owner, Kathleen French, added, “As a business owner, you don’t see this too often. A lot of times you can be in a company or very spread out. This village is very tight-knit and we’re all friends here. And it’s amazing the relationships that we are building.”

On Friday, French grabbed her microphone and karaoke and headed through the village, visiting shops that have since reopened.

In Aptos, the recovery is an effort undertaken in part by the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. They launched a fund aimed at long-term support of the legendary Seacliff State Beach.

MORE: Storm cleanup worries in Santa Cruz County as beach towns brace for more rain

“The devastation has been incredible, but it continues,” Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks executive director Bonny Hawley told ABC7 News. “Storms just keep coming. So it’s early in terms of knowing what the cost of fixing this park is going to be. But we want to be there and give the community a way to support it over time.”

The determination of those who have suffered so much throughout Santa Cruz County only underscores the unwavering resilience of the community.

“I’ve seen people really come together who are experiencing their own devastation and tragedy through this storm and even further through COVID,” described Shannon Myers of Katalina’s by the Sea. “And just go up to other people, ‘Hey! How are you? What do you need? How can I help?'”

To visit the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks fundraiser, click here.

To visit the Santa Cruz County Disaster Fund fundraiser, click here.

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