MEDIA ADVISORY: Community Bridges to Receive Donation from Union Pacific Railroad for Pajaro Flood Recovery

WATSONVILLE, CA — Community Bridges is set to receive a $25,000 donation from Union Pacific Railroad during a press conference on May 24th that will help bolster our ongoing recovery efforts for the nearby community of Pajaro.  

Since March 11, Community Bridges, with help from four participating local nonprofit partners, has distributed more than $800,000 in direct economic assistance to Pajaro residents who have been impacted by the recent devastating floods. Community Bridges has also provided more than $500,000 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.  

The distribution of economic 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. 

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our community to help support Pajaro’s recovery. As stewards of these resources, we continue to ensure needs are met for those who lost the most during this disaster by focusing our efforts on homes that have been red and orange tagged,” said Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino. “Our next phase of recovery will continue to support those suffering and who also have gaps in their recovery plans needing additional support to maintain in our community, return home and repair their lives.” 

Union Pacific Railroad is honored to be a part of this community-led effort to provide financial assistance to people impacted by this year’s floods.  

“Community Bridges is providing critical resources directly to the residents impacted by the flood and in communities where our employees live and work in California,” said Adrian Guerrero, assistant vice president – Government Affairs, Union Pacific Railroad. “We are proud to be a part of this effort, which is bringing people and resources together to help Pajaro Valley recover.” 

Press conference information: 

  • When: Wednesday, May 24th at 4:15pm  
  • Where: Community Bridges Headquarters; 521 Main Street, Watsonville 
  • What: Press conference regarding donation to Pajaro Valley Flood Relief fund 
  • Who: Community Bridges, Union Pacific Railroad, Monterey County Board of Supervisors Chair Luis Alejo, Representatives from Assemblymember Robert Rivas’ Office 

Background 

When the Pajaro River Levee failed in the early morning of March 11th and more than 2,000 Pajaro residents were forced to evacuate as their town flooded, Community Bridges leapt into action by donating thousands of essential hygiene and personal items to evacuees at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds shelter. Within hours, we also set up our mobile laundry trailer at the Fairgrounds to support flood victims and staff from our Family Resource Collective centers began meeting with families to complete our disaster Damage Assessment Form. By having families complete this form, we established a system in which we can efficiently and equitably distribute economic assistance to help Pajaro families through their months or years-long recovery.  

In late March, Community Bridges mobilized the Damage Assessment Form system via a three-wave economic assistance plan. Pajaro residents whose homes had sustained damage according to the County of Monterey’s Flood Damage Assessment Map could access grants, with the first wave of assistance starting at $500. More than 3,200 forms were completed, underscoring the extreme need for assistance for residents in Pajaro and other storm-impacted Monterey County communities such as Las Lomas and San Ardo. 

The second wave of grants through Community Bridges, in which Pajaro residents whose homes were damaged can access grants between $1,450-2,750, is now underway. Pajaro residents who received a $500 grant from Community Bridges, or the four other members of the Collective for Pajaro Relief (Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc., Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey, Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, and Monarch Services) do not need to reapply for assistance to benefit from the second and third waves.  

The second wave is bolstered by funds recently approved by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in response to the March 11 flood. Community Bridges will distribute funds to North Monterey County residents while Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey will distribute funds to South Monterey County residents. 

The third wave of assistance through Community Bridges will be for severe cases that will be forwarded to the long-term recovery group currently being established in Monterey County. 

To qualify for Community Bridges’ economic assistance, a person must:  

  • Fall at or below 80% of Area Median Income and/or 200% or less of Federal Poverty Limit  
  • Have their home listed as damaged by the County of Monterey’s Damage Assessment Map. Only residents whose homes have been orange- and red-tagged by the map will receive assistance in waves two and three.  
  • Show proof of damages  
  • Show proof that they live in Pajaro (lease, paystub, utility bill, license, school documents)  
  • For the second and third waves of assistance, a person must have also applied for assistance through FEMA and submitted a claim through their insurance (if they qualify and is available) 

Pajaro residents are encouraged to apply for assistance by visiting La Manzana Community Resources at 521 Main Street, Suite Y, in Watsonville from 9am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. 

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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