Community Bridges Opens Temporary Resource Center in Pájaro to Continue Essential Flood and Storm Recovery Work

PAJARO, CA — Community Bridges in partnership with Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey have teamed up to open a satellite resource center in Pájaro to assist and ensure that we continue to provide direct client disaster services for families recovering from the devastating Pájaro Valley floods.  

The 580-square-foot office at 14 Porter Drive will fulfill the functions of the Long-Term Case Management work needed to help the dozens of Pájaro families who are unable to return home or find new, habitable housing because of the spring storms. 

Beginning July 6, we will be staffing the center with members of our Family Resource Collective (FRC) team every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am to 4:30pm (closed for lunch between noon and 1pm) to support the diligent work of our partner organizations assisting in the recovery and help Pájaro families access assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and state, county, and local programs.  

About 2,000 residents were displaced after the Pájaro River levee breached and flooded the town of Pájaro and other surrounding communities. Many have returned home, but hundreds are still navigating the FEMA application process, and roughly 250 displaced Pájaro residents are staying in Watsonville hotels through the County of Monterey’s temporary shelter program as of mid-June. 

The Pajaro Long-Term Recovery Center will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9am-4:30pm.

“District 2 is deeply grateful to all of the Community-Based Organizations who stepped into recovery mode almost simultaneously with the winter weather disasters in Pajaro,” Monterey County District 2 Supervisor Glenn Church said. “By virtue of their tireless effort for this community, they are contributing to a roadmap for recovery that is striving for equity and relevance now and in the future. By continuing to prioritize this work with the opening of the Family Resource Center at 14 Porter Drive, they are helping to build a stronger, more cohesive, and more resilient community.” 

Since March 11, Community Bridges and Catholic Charities, with help from nonprofit partners Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc., Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, and Monarch Services, has distributed more than $1 million in direct economic assistance to Pajaro residents who have been impacted by the recent devastating floods. Community Bridges has also provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in indirect assistance through community outreach, political advocacy, essential items and supplies, free cleanup tools, and educational sessions regarding tenant and landlord rights, FEMA assistance, and insurance applications.  

This assistance has been made possible thanks to thousands of donations to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Community Foundation for Monterey County, and Community Bridges’ Pajaro Flood Relief fund, the latter of which has collected more than $500,000 from more than 1,600 supporters. 

With FEMA recently denying Community Bridges’ application for reimbursement assistance we are planning to have to fully fund our services through philanthropic means to help lease and fund the operations at the Pájaro site, we are investing a portion of these donations to secure the property for one year to ensure that access to services will not be a hurdle for recovering families. 

Community Bridges had hoped to apply for funding support through FEMA but just learned nonprofits cannot submit FEMA applications directly to the federal agency—nonprofits’ expenses must be submitted through local governments and agencies leaving no fruitful federal support.  

This is a testament to the importance of the continued philanthropic support for Pájaro families, and the need for stronger local partnerships between governments and nonprofits to ensure that first-responding, community-based groups can quickly and effectively respond to their community’s needs during disasters. 

“It’s imperative that we design systems that take full advantage of all our available resources to better serve our communities,” Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino said. “Ensuring that governments fully involve nonprofits like ourselves in their responsibilities to respond is paramount to ensuring a better and more equitable recovery.” 

Community Bridges is currently distributing funds to Pájaro families impacted by the recent storms at our FRC site in Watsonville, La Manzana Community Resources. Pájaro residents are encouraged to visit the FRC location at 521 Main Street, Suite Y, in Watsonville from 9am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday to inquire about eligibility. 

Currently, grants between $450-2,750 are available for Pájaro residents whose homes were damaged by the March 11 flood. Funds are being prioritized for Pájaro residents who did not qualify for FEMA assistance, and whose homes had sustained major damage (orange and red tagged), according to the County of Monterey’s Flood Damage Assessment Map. 

These grants are made possible by philanthropic support. People who want to help Pájaro families recover can donate to the following locations:  

About Community Bridges 

Community Bridges envisions a thriving community where every person has the opportunity to unleash their full potential. Together, our family of programs delivers essential services, provides equitable access to resources, and advocates for health and dignity across every stage of life. To learn more, please visit www.communitybridges.org. 

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