Since the flash floods and mudslides of Feb. 12, the rains have sweetened profits for many businesses. Ski outfitters, plumbers and exterminators are a few of those who are profiting handsomely.
But the wet weather has been a mixed blessing for others. Farmers, for instance, lost some crops but expect bigger and better yields in the long run.
Tim Vasconceolos, who manages Ventura Ski and Sport, says business over the past weeks has far surpassed anything he's seen in five years.
"There's a lot of enthusiasm out there," Vasconceolos said. "People are snow-starved."
But the snow might have been a little too late for him. Noting that many small ski shops are closing due to sliding profits, Vasconceolos said his store will soon be in the hands of a new owner.
Circle Ski and Sports in Westlake Village enjoyed its best February--the month when enthusiasm for the sport traditionally begins to taper off--since it opened in 1983, said owner John Potocar.
"Business is up 30% over last February," Potocar said. "It's a shot in the arm."
The boom has touched all areas of the store, including clothing, equipment and repairs, Potocar said.
"We are seeing a lot of older equipment come out of closets and garages. With the pressure created by the tight economy, people are deciding that they need to get out there and have some fun."
It hasn't been much fun for many of the workers at Roto-Rooter Sewer and Septic Tank Service in Ventura, who have been working 16- to 18-hour days in water up to their ankles. But the profits are making it worthwhile, said General Manager John Heard.
"It was pretty chaotic when the rains came," Heard said. Most calls came from people with drains clogged by leaves and other debris that had collected during the dry spell, he said.
"We got 110 calls on the first day it rained, compared to an average of 50 calls a day. However, we could only get to half of those calls that day."
Beth Anderson, an employee at All Value Plumbing & Rooter Service of Simi Valley, said her company got about 175 calls concerning clogged drains during the first two storms.
"People forgot about them during the drought," she said.
Bruno Dubeau, owner of Builders Mart in Oak View, anticipates an increase in demand for plumbing, electrical and drywall supplies as Ventura County residents rebuild after the devastating Feb. 12 flood.
But Dubeau said his expectations may be dashed by tight-money lending practices.
"Unfortunately, the banks are not lending money to refinance mortgages," said Dubeau, who fears he is losing potential customers. "It depends on the banks and government to loan people money."
The debris from backed-up drains, combined with the sand from storm runoff, created a mixed blessing for surfers.
Although the ocean was contaminated for a time, surfers and surfing stores will benefit in the long run. Joe Morris, the owner of Anacapa Surf & Sports in Port Hueneme, said the runoff has dumped enough sand into the ocean to affect the sand bars and create better waves.
Unlike surfers, termites hate the water. So in wet weather, they swarm into the wood, said Bob Schultz, an inspector for Dewey Pest Control of Oxnard.
"There are only two types of homes in California," Schultz said. "Those with termites and those that will get them."
The down side to the wet weather from his perspective, Schultz said, is that "we can't do inspections when it rains." And people tend to wait until the rain stops before calling for service, because they fear the chemicals will be washed away and thus serve no purpose, Schultz said.
Ventura County farmers said the rain has helped and harmed crops.
Although storms have forced flower grower John Engesser to postpone planting baby's breath and statice--two bouquet staples--he is grateful for the rain.
"I think we're all very happy to get all the water we can as long as we have dry spells between the storms," said Engesser, owner of Liberty Floral in Oxnard. "Rainwater recharges the ground water and recharges our crops."
But the streak of wet weather has caused havoc for other farmers.
The Bob Jones Ranch in El Rio lost about $70,000 last month when rain bruised and rotted 20% to 30% of the strawberry harvest, said ranch supervisor Joe Doud. The farm threw out the rotten strawberries and sold the bruised ones for half price.
This week's light, steady rains have created only minor damage, Doud said. The farm lost about $10,000 of its Oso Grande variety of strawberries, which are particularly susceptible to damage, he said.
Owners of local nurseries also reported a slight decrease in business.
"When it rains, people just don't come out," said Yvonne Laurye, owner of the Glasshouse Nursery in Oxnard.