Tuesday, March 21, 2023
HomeNewsReceding flood levels lead Monterey County to lift more evacuations

Receding flood levels lead Monterey County to lift more evacuations

Amid a dry start to the weekend, Monterey County officials on Saturday lifted more evacuation orders in inland regions where flooding from an atmospheric river storm earlier this week had forced tens of thousands from their homes.

Residents living in some evacuation zones toward the county’s northern areas have been allowed to turn back, including in the former sugar town of Spreckels, south of Highway 68.

With meteorologists expecting low weekend rainfall totals leading up to a wetter weather system on Monday, county officials said flood levels at the Salinas River were actively easing.

Still, about 200 miles of Highway 1 — much of it along the coast of Big Sur, a favorite road trip among tourists — remains closed, from the historic Deetjen’s Inn to Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County. Parts of the highway are expected to remain closed through the weekend.

And meanwhile, a return home has yet to appear on the horizon for thousands of farm workers in the Pajaro Valley, a five-square-mile community where a burst levee last week caused more than 800 homes to be inundated by murky floodwaters.

Adrian Arias fills buckets with flood water for toilet use at his home in Pajaro, California, on Thursday March. 16, 2023. The floodwaters did not reach Arias’ home, he said. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

In addition to contaminated silt, mud and stagnant flood water, the homes may also be subject to serious structural damage that would make it unsafe to re-enter, Monterey County Undersheriff Keith Boyd said earlier this week.

By Saturday, more than $101,000 had been raised by a GoFundMe Campaign to help the farm workers, who have said in interviews that they felt overlooked by the state’s emergency aid.

The state’s mixed coverage has not helped calm nerves. United Way, the state agency that coordinates the relief efforts, told the news organization on Thursday that just over $300,000 would be made available to the displaced workers — far short of Governor Gavin Newsom’s pledge of $42 million.

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Maria Ramos, a Santa Cruz County women’s rights advocate who started the GoFundMe page, wrote that after continuing to work during the pandemic and amid devastating wildfires, the farm worker community in Pajaro had been “affected yet again.”

“They are cold, hungry, homeless and living in fear of an uncertain future,” Ramos wrote on the campaign page. “How much more can they bear?”

Staff writer Aldo Toledo contributed to this report.



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