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    Biden tours beach town damaged by massive California storms

    CAPITOLA, CALIFORNIA (AP) – President Joe Biden walked along the splintered boardwalk of this picture-postcard California beach town on Thursday and heard from business owners struggling to repair damage to their shops after deadly storms caused devastation across the region and killed more than 20 people statewide.

    Biden toured a gutted seafood restaurant and the badly flooded Paradise Beach Grille, not far from the collapsed Capitola Pier and the brightly painted pink, orange and teal shops that were all boarded up following the storms. Walls were crumbling, debris scattered everywhere and floors swept away by raging waters.

    Paradise Beach Grille Owner Chuck Maier told Biden that water had gushed up from the floor and swamped his business on Monterey Bay not far from Santa Cruz. “No kidding,” Biden exclaimed.

    “You don’t feel it until you walk the streets,” Biden said later from nearby Seacliff State Park, speaking about how bad the damage was and blaming climate change for the severity of the weather. “If anybody doubts the climate is changing, they must have been asleep for the last couple of years.”

    Flanked by first responders, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell, the president highlighted the damage from the punishing rains, powerful winds, floods and landslides. He warned climate change would create more extreme weather.

    People watch from a distance as President Joe Biden isits business owners and local residents in Capitola, California. PHOTO: AP

    “We know some of the destruction is going to take years to rebuild,” Biden said. “But we’ve got to not just rebuild, but rebuild better.”

    From December 26 to January 17, California was deluged by 11.47 inches of rain and snow on average across the state, according to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center, with some reports of up to 15 feet of snow in the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada.

    California gets much of its rain and snow in the winter from a weather phenomenon known as “atmospheric rivers” – long, narrow bands of water vapor that form over the ocean and flow through the sky.

    California has been hit by nine atmospheric rivers since late December. The storms have relented in recent days. Forecasters were calling for light rain toward the end of this week followed by a dry period.

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