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The Colorful Resilience of Santa Cruz in The Storm

By Sheridan Smith

January 11th, 2023


Visual coverage of the California winter storm for GoodTimes. 


When the atmospheric river storm hit Santa Cruz, I joined community members as we witnessed our place of solace become a danger zone overnight. 


I grew up visiting my Nana’s bright yellow cottage in Capitola. Naturally, photographing wreckage in my hometown was a melancholic experience. However, even under the dystopian shadow of the storm, Santa Cruz County did not lose its color. I wanted to present this paradoxical reality of hope and devastation in my photographs; to do so, I isolated the threshold in which these contradictions coexist. 


Doorways embody a transitional moment. They establish a boundary that separates, and therefore defines, a condition of opposites. Our bold facades—armed with sandbags, caution tape, and color—symbolize the inside-outside paradox in the moment between destruction and recovery. With a hopeful sensibility in the aftermath of the storm, my photography captures this transitory moment on the hinge of destruction and recovery, presenting the colorful resilience of the Santa Cruz community.


Santa Cruz and California strong--today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. 


Although rain may seem like a saving grace for a state stuck in historic drought, the reality is far more complicated. In recent weeks, California’s atmospheric river is causing rainfall so intense that it amounts to 400-600% above California’s average (The Daily) and a death toll greater than the past two wildfire seasons combined (LA Times). Other manifestations of climate change, such as severe and ongoing droughts and wildfires, have primed California’s landscape for extreme flooding. As the state continues to suffer at the intersection of various environmental crises, the devastating realities of climate change demand unequivocal attention. What will you do about nature’s call-to-action? 

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