Roughly 16,000 residents along the Pajaro River in Monterey County remained under orders to evacuate or shelter in place on Monday in the wake of a weekend levee breach that inundated thousands of acres of homes and farmland, county officials said.
The breach that formed late Friday near the community of Pajaro had grown to at least 400 feet wide as of 11:30 a.m. Monday, according to an update released by the county.
Evacuation orders were issued for residents in the areas of Aroyo Seco, Pajaro, San Ardo and the Salinas River from Greenfield to Gonzales, Gonzales to Spreckels and northwest of Spreckels.
Evacuation warnings were also in effect for low-loying areas of Castroville and areas near Elkhorn and Moro Cojo Slough Marine Reserve.
Almost 5,000 residents are also ordered to shelter-in-place in areas west of River Road from state Highway 68 south to Fort Romie Road, and Las Palmas 1 and 2 and Indian Springs.
The county maintains an updated evacuation map on its emergency information website.
Residents who receive water from the Pajaro, Sunny Mesa or San Ardo water districts were encouraged to not use tap water for drinking or cooking, as it may be contaminated.
Shelter for displaced animals
Meanwhile, local agencies have stepped in to assist people and pets affected by the rising waters.
On Saturday, SPCA Monterey County said it had provided shelter for a Chihuahua, two pugs, two German Shepherds, a pit bull, a husky and 11 chickens that were displaced by the levee breach.
Spokeswoman Beth Brookhouser said her organization has several options for the pets of evacuees, as well as farm animals, exotic animals and wildlife.
“We help in multiple ways,” Brookhouser said in a phone interview Saturday. “If people are evacuating with their pets to a hotel or friend’s or relative’s home, we can provide pet supplies or food for them.”
“If people are evacuating with their pets to a hotel or friend’s or relative’s home, we can provide pet supplies or food for them.”Beth Brookhouser, SPCA Monterey County
There is also a shelter open at the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds that is pet-friendly, Brookhauser said. SPCA Monterey County will bring supplies like leashes or dog crates, as well as food, to the pet-friendly Santa Cruz Fairgrounds emergency evacuation shelter at 2601 East Lake Ave.
People forced to evacuate due to the levee breach can also bring their pets to the SPCA shelter at 1002 Monterey Salinas Highway in Salinas about a half-hour drive from the evacuation area.
“We ask that people call us first so we can be ready for them,” Brookhauser said. The SPCA can be reached at 831-373-2631 during regular business hours or 831-646-5534 for after-hours emergencies.
There’s also an SPCA team stationed near the breached levee, she said.
The SPCA’s website has additional information on animals and disaster preparedness.
More counties added to disaster declaration
Monterey County was not the only area impacted by the latest storm system to blow through the region. Gov. Gavin Newsom over the weekend added six more counties, including San Joaquin County, to those under a state of emergency to assist in storm response and relief efforts.
Previously, Newsom had proclaimed a state of emergency in 34 counties during recent atmospheric rivers and storms. As of Sunday, Calaveras, Del Norte, Glenn, Kings, San Benito and San Joaquin were added to the list.
The governor’s proclamation will support impacted residents throughout the covered counties to waive fees to replace records such as marriage and birth certificates, as well as provide flexibility to help hospitals and care facilities continue to provide services, according to a news release from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
A Presidential Emergency Declaration was issued last week by President Joe Biden.
While storms are forecasted to continue until mid-March many San Joaquin County residents have already witnessed the effects of the past storms with flooding, fallen trees collapsing on vehicles, street closures and power outages. Residents there were bracing for more damaging winds late Monday and into Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Bay City News reporters Janis Mara and Victoria Franco contributed to this story.