Number of Pajaro River evacuees grows at Santa Cruz County shelter

More than 200 people who were forced to evacuate their homes due to a levee break along the Pajaro River in Monterey County are now being temporarily housed at the Santa Cruz County Fair Grounds.

Both Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties have opened more than a dozen shelters for the more than a thousand people who had to evacuate their homes in the communities of Pajaro and Watsonville.

"We saw the water rushing in and that’s when we had to evacuate quickly. I just grabbed what was next to me…and just got into the car," said Fernando Martinez, who along with his eight family members, is now staying at the Santa Cruz Fair Grounds. 

RELATED: Storm breaches California river’s levee, thousands evacuate

The shelter, being operated by Santa Cruz County, also allows pets and livestock impacted by the floodwaters. Members of the Red Cross are also at the shelter assisting. 

"What most people need in the first 24, 48 hours is a safe place to be. Something has happened to their property, and they can come here, and we can provide overnight stays if you need it, we provide food…snacks, you can get a shower, you can be warm," said Virginia Becker of the Red Cross.

Throughout the day, donations poured in for evacuees. Items requested varied from water to blankets, pajamas for children, and baby wipes. Dawn Harrell, who owns a local grocery store, arrived with a pickup truck full of supplies.  

"I don't want to cry. I just feel for people. It's tough, and I'm fortunate, and I'm able to do this," said Harrell.

Santa Cruz County officials say they plan to keep the shelter open as long as it’s needed.