.Community Serves Hot Meals to Pajaro Residents

Volunteers have been preparing dinners for hundreds of flood victims every night

Volunteers throughout the community have been serving hot meals to hundreds of Pajaro residents whose homes are considered unhabitable after being submerged in flood water.

Under a tent, chefs have been preparing carne asada, soup, grilled chicken and more on-site for displaced families, many of whom have been living out of their cars for over a week.

“This means so much to us,” says Jose Ververde, who stands in a parking lot after dark surrounded by his family, each eating from paper plates piled with steaming hot food. “It’s good food—beef and chicken. We can’t go home and don’t know when we can. I work in Santa Cruz, but at night we have no place to go.”

Aileen Hernandez said her mother, Luz Maria, came up with making meals for people left on the streets by the flood.

“It’s about people helping out, helping people who are sleeping in their cars and those that don’t have enough money to buy food,” she says. “There are some people that are staying at shelters and other places, but then there are people on the other side of the bridge in Pajaro who, people don’t realize, aren’t getting enough food and water. People are donating to help. We’re the first people who actually came here and made sure they got food.”

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Hernandez says she sees donations from around town that include water, tortillas, soup, various types of meat, beans, rice, vegetables and fruit.

“And people are bringing hot dogs and pizzas for the kids,” she adds.

Luz said she knows how it feels to go without food during trying times.

“I know because I’ve been there,” she says. “I knew we had to do something, and that started with feeding these people.”

No word has been given when folks can return to Pajaro to their homes and belongings. Officials have said there is a four-phase program to ensure homes are safe to re-enter, and they are currently in the second phase.

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Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.
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