letter to the editor pajaronian

With nearly three feet of rain in three weeks, national news picked up on the big impacts in our small county. Folks from Nebraska to North Carolina saw images of our battered coastline and the wreckage of Seacliff State Beach and Capitola Village. But the public—and the President—didn’t get to see the communities whose homes and livelihoods were impacted by the storms and they didn’t see who showed up to help. They didn’t see who it was that filled and delivered 40,000 sandbags, helped evacuate and feed seniors, or got over 5,000 hot meals to people in need. And they aren’t going to see the expert disaster case managers guiding people to resources they may be able to benefit from.

But what locals saw was quick, skillful action fueled by love and encouraged by generosity. During the New Year’s downpours there were power outages, slides, floods and trees crashing down. But unhoused people, day workers, young adults with the California Conservation Corps, city public works and legislative staff, and staff from various nonprofit groups from the South County Triage group including Second Harvest Food Bank, Community Action Board, Community Bridges and the Volunteer Center showed up for this community. We were neighbors helping neighbors with shovels, trucks, generators, wheelbarrows, ponchos, chainsaws, tarps, rope, food, phone numbers to call, and most importantly, love.

Day workers, parents and WatsonvilleWorks! crews made up of unsheltered community members worked alongside employees from the City of Watsonville, Second Harvest, United Way, Monarch, Community Bridges, PV Prevention and Student Assistance, and Community Action Board preparing and delivering thousands of sandbags. Community leaders from across the county did door-to-door outreach in English, Spanish and Mixteco to make sure families—including the families of indigenous agricultural workers—were safe. Meals on Wheels and Second Harvest drivers delivered food to evacuated seniors’ hotel rooms and shelters, comforting them as they worried about their flooded homes. The Community Foundation activated its Disaster Fund as a trusted place for people to donate and immediately issued grants to nonprofit partners for supplies and support.  

Since New Year’s Day, our local nonprofit agencies have partnered to hone a system for delivering information and triaging aid. But as we continue to struggle with the economic fallout of the pandemic and rebuild from CZU fires, big questions remain. We are often asked where people can find help. In the early days of our disasters, our nonprofits show up to gather around our neighbors. As time goes on, we rely on public employees to jump in.

For all residents struggling to muck out their homes, for small business owners coping with damages and lost income, for employees suddenly displaced and without a paycheck, and for those who have lost everything, we have financial assistance to help. Resources that were given by neighbors to help neighbors. Please contact your nearest family resource center to find support. The newly created disaster resource centers in Watsonville and Felton are also here to guide people.

Long after visiting dignitaries and the news have moved on, we will still be here for each other. Even when it feels like the obstacles to a fair recovery are insurmountable, we have an infrastructure of love and partnership that holds us together. We know how to do this. We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. We’ll have ponchos ready for those out working in the storm. We’ll go door-to-door distributing food, showing up to a neighbor’s house to lend a hand, donating what we can, or helping someone manage their way through the applications and claims forms. This is work we do, because as people with love in our hearts for this place and its people, it’s simply work worth doing.


• Winter Storm Relief information: 2-1-1

• Community Foundation Disaster Fund: cfscc.org/disaster

• Volunteer at scvolunteercenter.org

• Second Harvest Community Food Hotline: 662.0991, thefoodbank.org/food-distribution-for-flood-affected-areas

• Indigenous Language Hotline: 440.3556

Raymon Cancino is CEO of Community Bridges, MariaElena De La Garza is Executive Director of Community Action Board, Inc., Karen Delaney is Executive Director of Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, Erica Padilla-Chavez is CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County, and Susan True is CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. Their opinions are their own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian.

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  1. The President saw a great deal of destruction and damage. he has declared our entire state as a zone eligible for FEMA aid and low interest loans for repair. not to mention BUILD BACK BETTER money from his landmark legislation to rebuild our community BETTER this time.
    it has already begun.
    thank you, Mr. President. We look forward to your State of the Union address Tuesday night.

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  2. Yes we know about the damage and the visit from Biden. His declaration came prior to his visit. It is hilarious that Stevie ‘look at me’ thinks his reply is helpful. He seems to be George Santos type.

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  3. I am agreeing with the Pajaronian reporter. i have the first amendment on my side. you are a laughable, trashy troll who contributes NOTHING to this newspaper. go troll. it is what you do best.

    YOUR party gave us Santos. i am transparent. he is opaque. I did not try to get in front of Mitt Romney at the State of the Union speech Tuesday night. that is not what I do. I do not need to that. my writings, speeches, and appearances at community events speak for themselves. you hide out, scared that people will learn of your identity and shun you as they should. i have no such fear. nearly all of my experiences are documented . none of yours are.
    you need therapy. you are a scared, insecure, jealous and envious person.

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