SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — After nine atmospheric rivers and record-breaking rainfall, the President of the United States is flying to California on Thursday to see the storms’ destruction up-close.
President Joe Biden’s White House Press Office has not yet publicly announced precise locations where Biden will visit. But KRON4 has confirmed that he will tour areas in Santa Cruz County and Santa Clara County that were hit hardest by a “parade of storms.”
White House press officials stated, “Tomorrow, President Biden will travel to areas impacted by the recent extreme weather in California. Stops include Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties, where storms have caused severe floods and landslides.”
The President will meet with first responders, local officials, and communities impacted by the devastation. Biden will also survey recovery efforts and assess what additional federal support is needed for rebuilding and recovery.
“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. Throughout this time, he has remained in close touch with the Governor,” the White House Press Office wrote.
Biden will travel with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and meet with Governor Gavin Newsom Thursday.
Biden approved Gov. Newsom’s request for an expedited Major Disaster Declaration over the weekend that will provide federal support for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and Individual Assistance to survivors whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by the storm. The counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Merced, and Sacramento were approved by the Presidential Major Disaster Declaration.
“And we have over 500 FEMA and other Federal personnel have already deployed to California to support response and recovery operations,” the White House Press Office wrote.
In the Santa Cruz Mountains, storm destruction manifested as mudslides over major roads and rivers overflowing into neighborhoods.
Along the coast, ocean swells with 35-foot waves and extreme tide surges flooded beach homes and popular restaurants, as well as destroyed two piers.
The rural south side of the county was also hit hard when creeks and levees overflowed into agricultural fields.
The FAA issued Temporary Flight Restrictions that will be in effect Thursday morning to clear airspace for Air Force One. Pilots will be restricted from flying in and out of San Jose and Watsonville’s airports during certain time windows.
Air space is usually guarded by F-15C military fighter jets for presidents. When then-President Barack Obama flew in Air Force One over Santa Cruz 12 years ago, military fighter jets intercepted and escorted several small private planes that entered the no-fly zone.
Windy and wet storms battered the West Coast for two weeks and left behind significant flooding, downed trees and landslides. More than 22 inches of rain has drenched Santa Cruz County this winter.
On Tuesday, the California Geological Survey released a map of 600 landslides documented across the state since Dec. 30, 2022.
Beyond destruction, January’s rainstorms were also deadly. State officials confirmed that at least 20 people lost their lives in storm-related incidents, including drownings, lightning strikes, and toppled trees.