April 5, 2023, Aptos, CA- It made an impression, seeing the width and height of the Pajaro River, flowing through the remnants of its namesake town. The community of 2,000 people has been inundated, and largely leveled, by the second major flood in 28 years. Most locals remember the destruction from the Deluge of 1995. Now, the artichoke fields, and some of the vineyards which have sprung up, in the interim, will again endure an unplanned fallow period. It will take a long while to recover.
Not surprisingly, feelings are raw, and voices rose in anger, late this evening, as a few rowdy children ran about while some men and women were trying to sleep, ahead of the next day’s work. Matters didn’t come to blows, thanks largely to the calm voice of the night supervisor for the Red Cross crew. Those who felt that their children were unfairly chastised by others left in the middle of the night, but that was a free choice-and no one would have continued to berate them, had they stayed in the shelter. I stand by my associate and his style of management.
The day shift produced a whirlwind of activity and resulted in more materials and services being available to the residents-both in the shelter and around town. Watsonville, the larger town west of Pajaro, was also seriously affected by the flooding, and is also a focus of services, with food being brought to them by our mental health team and outreach from various agencies, both state and local. FEMA is becoming steadily, but carefully, involved in the recovery operation.
The scene is being replicated, across the continent, by wind and ice, as well as by flowing water. Tornadoes have slammed over a dozen states; Ontario and Quebec have suffered widespread power outages, due to ice storms, which are as bad as-and sometimes worse than, torrential rain. It is bound to be a long, hard Spring, yet we’ll get through it, by diligence, encouragement and sticking together.
I hope those who left will be able to find places to stay that are safe and dry!!
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They will. The transition, above all, must include space for reassurance that the needs of all will continue to be met.