pajaro river levee breach flood
This drone image shows where the Pajaro River levee breached near Murphy Crossing Road. Photo: Alfredo Torres

PAJARO—A secondary breach of the Pajaro River near the Pacific Ocean Monday has helped relieve pressure from the levee and lower floodwaters in Pajaro.

Crews are working 24/7 to make emergency repairs to the primary breach of the levee near Murphy Crossing Road that has now grown to roughly 300 feet, Monterey County officials said during a Monday afternoon Zoom press conference.

Shaunna Murray, a senior water resources engineer with Monterey County, said crews from the state’s emergency contractor had difficulty accessing the remote area where the breach occurred due to the high water levels. Workers built roads and staging areas Sunday afternoon to transport the rocks that will be used to stabilize the levee.

The hope is to have the breach stabilized by the end of Monday, Murray said, and once that’s completed, crews will work through the night to raise the elevation of a temporary wall constructed along the repaired area.

Highway 1, which was shut down Sunday morning between Salinas Road and Highway 129 (Riverside Drive), remains closed due to flooding, with no timetable for reopening.

Pajaro has remained underwater since the levee breached early Saturday morning, flooding agricultural fields and forcing more than 2,000 people to be evacuated. Monterey County Undersheriff Keith Boyd said floodwaters impacted roughly 800 homes in Pajaro.

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office has deployed its dive rescue team and is also receiving assistance from other law enforcement agencies, including the San Jose, Santa Clara and Belmont police departments.

No injuries or deaths have been reported in Pajaro. Boyd said that a small plane did crash into a flooded field in Castroville on Sunday afternoon. The pilot parachuted out of the plane and suffered minor injuries. They were transported to a local hospital.

Boyd said that the sheriff’s office arrested a person attempting to break into the Pajaro Coin Laundry, while it has also received multiple reports of people trying to break into vehicles.

Due to the flooding that impacted drinking water facilities, the drinking water supplied by Pajaro Water System is possibly contaminated. Pajaro residents are advised not to use the tap water for drinking and cooking until further notice.

Potable water is available at the Pajaro Valley Golf Course, 967 Salinas Road in Royal Oaks.

According to county officials, 320 people are taking shelter at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.

Emergency shelters:

• Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 2061 East Lake Ave., Watsonville

• Compass Church, 10325 S. Main St., Salinas

• Holy Trinity Church Hall, 27 South El Camino Real, Greenfield

• Salvation Army Contra Costa, 1491 Contra Costa Blvd, Seaside

• Castroville Recreation Center, 11261 Crane St.

Temporary Evacuation Points, where evacuees can make transportation arrangements to an emergency shelter:

• Prunedale Library, 17822 Moro Road

• Carmel Valley Library, 65 W. Carmel Valley Road

• King City Library, 402 Broadway St.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


  1. We hope the Army Corp Of Engineers can do the $400,000,000 levy fix ASAP.
    We’re greatful for that!!!

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  2. The Pajaro River should have been repaired back in the 1950’s when it had reached flood
    stage. We were flooded, as was Santa Cruz by the San Lorenzo River, which was also
    slated for repair work. Brianna

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