PAJARO—Motorists who have been taking hours-long detours since waters from a flood forced the closure of Highway 1 saw a measure of relief Thursday morning, after officials opened the road. Officials cautioned, however, that parts of the highway between Salinas Road and Highway 129 will have to close intermittently to allow crews to reconstruct the eroded embankment material around the bridge supports.
That repair occurred not long after workers finished resealing the Pajaro River levee, which breached around midnight on March 11 after a storm caused the river to swell.
In a visit to Pajaro Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom took a walk on the levee to see the repairs, and said that more rain could be on the forecast.
“If anyone has any doubt about mother nature and her fury, if anyone has any doubt about what this is all about in terms of what’s happening to the climate and the changes that we’re experiencing, come to the State of California.” he said.
Newsom also questioned why permanent repairs to the levee have taken decades to make.
While those repairs will come within the next two years when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins a $400 million upgrade to give 100-year flood protection, Newsom pointed out that the project will take five to seven years.
“No one has patience for five to seven years,” he said, adding that the state should look at the way it prioritized its projects in low-income communities.
Newsom said that farmworkers affected by the storm will soon receive $600 checks from a $42 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant announced in October.
But with fields still flooded, many farmers and workers are unsure whether they will still be able to plant this year.
A few miles away, San Jose Mexican Consul General Alejandra Bologna Zubikarai visited the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds to talk to the Mexican nationals staying there, and to let them know what services are available.
This includes accessing important paperwork and connecting them with services.
“We have the interest to see how our community is doing with this unfortunate situation, and see if they have special needs,” she said. “I assured them that we are here, and if they need to contact us they can contact us.”
Part of the problem, she said, is the uncertainty facing the evacuees, who still have not been allowed to return to their storm-damaged homes.
“They don’t know if they will have work,” she said. “They don’t know what they are going to find when they go back to their home.”