Pajaro flood survivors still recovering from levee break while awaiting state funds

This week marks the one-year anniversary of a devastating levee breach that inundated the small town of Pajaro.

Residents and business owners are still striving to recover, just as state funding is supposed to arrive.

Even after a year, the aftermath of the levee rupture remains vivid. The damage and frustration persist.

"I'm feeling sad, like they don't do anything for us. Like we're living in the middle of nowhere," said Maria Martinez, who runs the Mexico Meat Market.

Martinez said that the sole assistance her business has received since the flooding has been from family and savings.

"We don't have money to replace all the merchandise or to fix the building," said Martinez.


Pajaro: The look of floods to come soon

The Pajaro levee break was no surprise and officials know it was weak and vulnerable to high, fast water flows.

The levee repairs are nearing completion. Meanwhile, California has pledged $20 million to the town, with $10 million designated for businesses and residents and another $10 million for community enhancements.

"And it still hasn't come. Bureaucracy, I think that's what they call it," said Sister Rosa Delores Rodriguez of the De La Cultura Center.

However, that is set to change. Monterey County noted it took several months to secure the funds and develop a strategy. Now, the county is set to initiate the disbursement of state funds.

"So the process has started essentially, and it's going to continue for the next couple of months. We're going to be there as long as it takes. We've opened community resource centers in the Pajaro Park," said Nick Pasculli of the County of Monterey.

Residents said they need the help. Some households still have mold, while others remain without shelter.

"As a matter of fact, there's still two families at Roadway Inn," said Rodriguez.

Community organizations like Casa De La Cultura have stepped up, and neighbors have also pitched in to support one another.

Pajaro is planning a celebration to mark the one-year anniversary of the levee break and the town's resilience.

"This disaster has brought the realization that the only way this community will really progress is by coming together," said Rodriguez.

The community party is scheduled for March 23.

Although the levee repairs are almost done, a broader levee replacement project remains in the planning stages.