WASHINGTON, D.C. (KRON) – Each member of Congress gets a “plus one,” for Tuesday night’s State of The Union Address. Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California’s 19th Congressional District chose a business owner from Capitola who is still rebuilding after the intense storms of the new year.

KRON4 first met Chuck Hammers during President Biden’s visit to Capitola on Jan. 19 and talked with him Tuesday about what he was looking forward to from the speech.

Hammers has watched every State of The Union Address since he can remember, but Tuesday was his first time seeing it in person. It is a chance to be a part of history and represent an entire community still rebuilding. Since President Biden toured Downtown Capitola last month, the cost of damages has kept climbing for Hammers at Pizza My Heart.

“The more we dig into that building the more we find, so we’ve had to replace all the plumbing underneath the building. It just all got wiped out,” Hammers said. 

He says it will take about half a million dollars to get him and the other three restaurants in his building back open. He gave KRON4 an update Tuesday in front of Capital Hill where he’ll be Panetta’s guest for the president’s State of The Union Address. Hammers met the Congressman less than 24 hours after his business was flooded.

“He was the first federal person to be on-site. He was on-site the next day, and we all really appreciated that, and he’s been back to visit. He came in last weekend and checked on the whole thing,” Hammers said.

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When the president walked through Pizza My Heart, he promised federal relief and as of Friday, residents and business owners can now apply for FEMA assistance.

“They got more rain in a single day than they get in an entire year in parts of the state. Drenching rain, powerful winds, floods, landslides, but you don’t feel it until you walk the streets,” Biden said,

Hammers says Pizza My Heart doesn’t face the ocean, so he’ll be able to re-open in about a week. Other businesses beside him in Capitola will take more time, with the goal of re-opening by spring break.