Storm-impacted CA communities could receive long-awaited FEMA help

Zach Fuentes Image
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Storm-impacted CA communities could receive long-awaited FEMA help
If the major disaster declaration is approved, FEMA can deploy resources to Pajaro and other California counties that were impacted by the storms.

PAJARO, Calif. (KGO) -- In the town of Pajaro, thousands of people have begun the long recovery effort of cleaning up after the devastating floods.

But now, they have new hope for some additional aid from President Joe Biden.

It was around midnight Friday, March 10 when the Pajaro levee breached, flooding the town, forcing the evacuation of around 3,000 people.

They finally came home late last week, many to homes they can't live in, the community still without drinkable water.

VIDEO: Aerial views of Salinas River flooding in Monterey County as levee breaks from overflowing water

Sky 7 video shows a levee break as the Salinas River in Monterey County overflows its banks, flooding farmland in the area.

Many residents only coming home to throw away just about everything.

Debris pickup has started this week and Wednesday, Monterey County opened a brand new resource center for people impacted.

All of this as the county says that there's now a change in pace from response to recovery a daunting process.

"Recovery is going to take several months, if not years," said Kelsey Scanlon with the Monterey County Dept. of Emergency Services.

From the start of the flooding and evacuations in Monterey County, the California Office of Emergency Services and local nonprofits came in to provide assistance.

RELATED: Pajaro River breach leaves town in Monterey Co. underwater, residents asked not to drink water

Still, many have been anxious for Governor Gavin Newsom to request a presidential major disaster declaration.

Once signed by President Biden, it would allow FEMA to deploy resources not just to Pajaro in Monterey County, but other California counties like Santa Cruz and San Benito that were impacted by storms since Feb. 21. FEMA help would also then be available to the people in the requested counties who were impacted by storms after that date.

After delays, that request to the President was signed by Newsom Tuesday and is awaiting signature from Biden.

"Certainly the step that was made (Tuesday) by the governor, Governor Gavin Newsom is a very positive step, a step in the right direction," said Nicholas Pasculli, Monterey County spokesperson.

While most may agree with that, there's still concern that some of the people impacted in Pajaro may fall through the cracks.

VIDEO: Monterey County flooding forces evacuations as farmers face serious impacts

A levee break in the small Monterey County community of Pajaro has forced the evacuation of nearly 2,000 residents, virtually the entire town.

"Monterey County and also more specifically Pajaro has a fairly high incidence of undocumented individuals living in that community," said Raymon Cancino, CEO of local nonprofit Community Bridges, "Which means that a lot of the folks are not going to be eligible for FEMA support."

Newsom says he will be looking into state funds to help fill some of those gaps.

Community Bridges says it will also do what it can with partners to help as all focus on rebuilding.

"We're working the best and the fastest that we can to ensure that we're impacting those families," Cancino said.

To find out more on how to donate to Community Bridges, visit here.

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