With storms gone, damage impacts on Bay Area residents persist

Lauren Martinez Image
Friday, April 21, 2023
With storms gone, damage impacts on Bay Area residents persist
Homeowners are still navigating the physical and financial impacts of storm-related damages that will take months to repair.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area families are still dealing with the impacts of storm-related damages that will take months to repair.

On March 21, Leah Russin was sitting in her living room when she saw the 60-foot Douglas fir in her Palo Alto backyard come crashing down on her house. She ran outside with her toddler in her arms, no one was hurt.

"Our whole sense of safety has been shattered literally," Russin said.

The damage can be seen outside and inside. Tree branches are poking out through ceilings in two separate rooms.

VIDEO: Bay Area animal rescue and zoo needs help as they recover from severe storm damage

CuriOdyssey, a San Mateo animal rescue and zoo is still cleaning up after being battered by the recent storms and is asking for the community's help.

"Damaged our chimney, we won't know how much yet because we won't know until they start picking it part to see if there's structural damage. We did have a gas leak that we discovered two days later," Russin said.

Immediate repairs were an ordeal in itself. Now it's been about long-term work.

"We did have a roofer, demo crew and a framer out to give us bids, but they haven't been able to schedule the actual work," Russin said.

Their insurance adjusters told the Russin's they can remove the tree and patch the roof but can't fix it until they come out.

"Finally the adjuster came but we still don't have his report so we don't how much they think this is going to cost," Leah Russin said.

Russin said she's coming to terms that managing the repairs is going to be a big part of her life for a little while.

To her, this experience has highlighted bad but also good things about the community.

"I've received so many unsolicited offers of help. People who I know sort of tangentially through PTA showed up with food, unsolicited," Russin said.

RELATED: Santa Cruz Mountains home on the 'edge' of creek after storm-induced erosion now red tagged

Following months of storm-induced erosion, a Santa Cruz Mountains couple's house now stands on the edge above a creek.

In Boulder Creek, ABC7 News introduced a couple's home that was standing on the edge after months of storm-induced erosion. Santa Cruz County red-tagged the house.

ABC7 News spoke to John and Melissa Liotti in March when they were staying at an Airbnb in San Jose. Now these longtime homeowners have jumped back into the rental market and found a place in Santa Cruz.

"All the work trying to find a place, schedule the moving, and so the mountain of work that was unexpected in the spur of the moment- and then I still have a day job," John Liotti said.

He's estimating repairs will be $150,000-200,000. A soil engineer is three months out until they can provide a clear estimate on repairs.

They're grateful for the rental they have, but it costs just as much as their mortgage which is getting hard to juggle both.

MORE: Bay Area arborist turns fallen trees into coveted furniture

The fierce storms that battered the Bay Area gave arborist Michael Veneziano a lot of work converting toppled trees into elegant furniture.

"So the challenge for us is should we fix it? Should we struggle to pay the mortgage and the rent at the same time in order to keep it? Should we let it go into foreclosure? Should we do a cash sale to get it off our hands but being a red-tagged building that's very questionable," John Liotti said.

For years John Liotti's non-profit Able Works has helped mortgage work for low-income families. Melissa Liotti is currently a case worker for Adobe Services Santa Cruz County. She helps find housing for homeless seniors.

They never thought they would have to navigate through housing like the way they are now.

"Definitely understand the anxiety that comes with it and honestly I think have a lot more empathy in understanding the pain," Melissa Liotti said.

"It's good to be reminded of the beauty of life and to remember what it's like to struggle. I think oftentimes in the Bay Area because we live in such an affluent area it's kind of an illusion sometimes," John Liotti said.

They both agreed it's been a humbling experience and they're thankful for their Boulder Creek and new Santa Cruz neighbors.

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