Today, a disaster recovery center opened in downtown Watsonville to help Pajaro flood victims navigate federal relief programs.
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for seven counties on Monday, freeing up federal money for people whose lives were upended by the storms and flooding.
Also, storm and flood victims can call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (800-621-3362) or visit disasterassistance.gov to file a claim for funds to help with rebuilding and living expenses incurred during the evacuation.
FEMA representatives and those from other agencies are on hand at the center to help register people for assistance.
The center replaces the Local Assistance Center at the Veterans Memorial Building in Watsonville, operated by the County of Monterey Department of Emergency Management, which opened on March 29. Those services will transition to the FEMA site.
Daniel Gonzalez of the Department of Emergency Management said the site at the Veterans Memorial Building served a little more than 1,000 families since it opened and saw an uptick in activity since Biden signed the declaration.
Tiana Suber of FEMA said storm victims seeking assistance at the newly opened center should come ready with documentation, such as proof of residency and insurance information, if available.
As of the afternoon of Friday, April 7, the Old City Hall site has seen 103 visitors and registered 55 for assistance, according to Suber.
“We’re letting everybody know we’re here and ready to help,” she said. “If you need to come to the disaster recovery center and need that one-on-one help, please do not hesitate.”
Suber noted that the center had received many inquiries from visitors regarding immigration status, adding that FEMA does not share that information.
Non-citizens may qualify for financial assistance if they are green card holders, have been granted asylum, or meet other requirements. Those not meeting citizenship or immigration requirements may be eligible for additional services, such as crisis counseling assistance, legal help, case management, etc.
Undocumented immigrants can also apply for assistance for their minor children if they are U.S. citizens and live in the same household.
For information, visit bit.ly/3nUgHS6.
During a press briefing, Don Rosa, general manager of the Pajaro Sunny Mesa Community Services District, said Pajaro remains under a do not drink order due to possible contaminated water from the floods.
He said the state Division of Drinking Water is still analyzing water samples and is waiting to release a final report before rescinding the order. According to Rosa, such a decision could come in the next two to three weeks.
Laura Emmons of the County of Monterey Department of Emergency Management said crews had made progress on removing flood-damaged debris from Pajaro, intending to complete the first phase by the end of the month. Residents are advised to move damaged goods to the curb by April 24.
The FEMA Center is open daily (except April 9), 9am-7pm, at Old City Hall, 250 Main St., Watsonville.