From a dead sleep at about 1 a.m. Saturday, Pajaro residents Lucia Mendoza and her husband Francisco Curiel were jolted awake by wailing police sirens and voices over loudspeakers warning of a coming flood and urging evacuation.

As quickly as they could, the two rushed to grab their three daughters and snatch any valuables they could. Before they knew it, the couple and their children were outside in the rain watching as their neighbors packed up their lives too for an uncertain future.

“I was in complete panic,” Mendoza said through tears while her daughter clutched her legs in the middle of the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, where evacuated families are sheltering. “We got our kids’ documents and our immigration documents and that’s it. We didn’t bring anything else, and I’m worried that my house is just completely flooded.”

Like Mendoza, dozens of Pajaro families on Sunday took shelter on rows of cots inside the fairgrounds, thumbed through piles of hand-me-down clothing and blankets and filled up with plates of warm food — many of them immigrant farmworkers who don’t know what the future holds.

But the rain that had them fleeing from their homes and their lives in the dead of night on Saturday isn’t over and flood waters in the area are expected to rise as weather forecasters project another atmospheric river to beat down on the region.

While Sunday and Monday should see light showers, the full brunt of the atmospheric river will arrive Monday evening, the weather service said. That could mean 2 to 3 inches of rain in Monterey County where areas have already seen flooding after a 100-foot breach opened up on Friday around midnight on the 74-year-old levee along the Pajaro River.

The atmospheric river is expected to bring 1-2 inches of rain in San Jose, and 1-1½ inches in Contra Costa County.

More rain this week is the last thing needed for a community that “is underwater,” Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto said.

“We’ve evacuated about 2,000 people,” Nieto said. “Our public safety (personnel) has done over 200 evacuations in high-water vehicles and boats.” She added that authorities have rescued more than 200 people.

Now officials have their eyes on the Salinas River, which has been rising through the Salinas Valley, prompting new evacuation orders on Sunday.

A flood warning went into effect at 1 a.m. for the Salinas River from Gonzales to Spreckels, and residents there were urged to be prepared …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


‘Complete panic:’ Pajaro residents seek shelter as the next atmospheric river is on its way

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