On March 11, 2023, tragedy struck the Pajaro River Valley in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties when a 100-foot section of the Pajaro River levee was breached. This resulted in devastating flooding that forced 8,500 residents to flee their homes. Over 200 people were rescued from the area amidst the hazardous conditions, and thankfully no fatalities were reported.
As a precautionary measure, evacuation orders have been issued for areas near the Salinas River and Highway 1 remains closed from Salinas Road to Highway 129 (Riverside Drive). A flood warning is in effect due to the Pajero river flooding and communities throughout these counties face considerable danger.
Neglected Pajaro River Levee Fails, Causing Devastating Flooding and Forcing Evacuations
The Pajaro River levee, located near the small town of Pajaro, had long been identified as inadequate and in need of repairs. Despite research pointing to risks posed by the state of the levee, no action was taken due to the poverty and low-income status of this area.
This weekend saw the levee fail, flooding the town and forcing many residents to evacuate. In light of this tragedy, an environmental justice resetting has been called for in order to ensure that projects which protect life safety are not determined by benefit-cost ratios alone, especially those in vulnerable low-income areas. Unfortunately, this hindsight came too late to prevent the Pajaro River flooding disaster.
Over 8,500 Evacuated as Pajero River Flooding Prompts Emergency Warning
The residents of Pajaro, California, have been hit with a massive flood crisis this past weekend due to an atmospheric river breaching the levee along the Pajaro River. Over 8,500 people have been forced to evacuate, many of whom are farmworker Latinos who are among the most vulnerable in the community.
With the help of rescue crews, the California National Guard, and local officials, more than 100 individuals were safely evacuated in time. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning and urges residents to take all necessary precautions as another storm threatens to bring further damage.
California National Guard Evacuates Residents Amid Pajero River Flooding in Monterey County
Residents of Elkhorn in California’s Monterey County were shocked on Sunday as floodwaters spilled over from the Pajaro River, submerging roads and leaving many scrambling to save their belongings. The floods spread rapidly, leading to a breach of the Pajaro River levee and ultimately forcing the closure of Highway 1.
In response, the California National Guard was seen evacuating residents from Hudson Landing road, which had been cut off by the rising waters. Authorities are now urging everyone within the affected area to exercise caution and remain alert as Pajero river flooding continues.
Residents of South Monterey County are bracing for yet another round of flooding, as an atmospheric river system is set to roll in on Tuesday. The already high Pajero River is expected to reach dangerously high levels, prompting local authorities to issue a flood warning and evacuate areas along the Salinas River.
Road closures and disruptions are expected in the coming days, leaving many residents struggling to stay ahead of the torrential floodwaters. There is currently no definitive timeline for when the flooding in the area will end.
Pajero River Flooding Evacuation Details
The closest evacuation shelter to the community of Pajaro is the Santa Cruz Fairground.
The Santa Cruz County Fairground
2061 E. Lake Blvd, Watsonville.
Temporary Evacuation Center
Prunedale Library, 17822 Moro Rd.
Cabrillo Community College Gym
Watsonville Veterans Memorial Building