Flood Relief Efforts in Watsonville, Spring 2023
Direct Aid for Pajaro Farmworkers living on the border of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties
As the Presbytery of San Jose emerges from its wettest winter in recent memory, we praise God for filling California’s reservoirs and cheer on the good people of Westview Presbyterian Church in Watsonville, led by Pastor Dan Hoffman, who rolled up their sleeves to help neighbors in need. A Pajaro river levee broke on March 11, flooding the unincorporated town of Pajaro, just south of Watsonville on the border of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. A month later, the population continues to struggle.
About Pajaro and its population
- Repairs to the levee system by the Army Corps of Engineers may begin within two years. The Pajaro River levee system was built in 1949, and an upgrade was authorized in the 1960s but never built. In 2022, landowners along the levee system accepted a new tax to fund repairs. This “final piece of the puzzle” augments State and Federal funding for the $400M project. The Pajaronian, April 6.
- More than 160 farm workers still shelter at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville a month after the flood. Local News Matters, April 6.
- Many agricultural workers living in Pajaro are Indigenous Mixteco speakers who are not fluent in English or Spanish. San Jose Mercury-News, April 4.
How you can help
Rev. Robby Olson writes about programs accepting financial support:
Campesina Womb Justice (https://www.gofundme.com/f/direct-aid-for-the-pajaro-farmworkers)
“A good Pajaro Valley organization that is helping farmworker (who are among the most vulnerable among us.) They have a go fund me for direct financial assistance ($500) to displaced farmworker families. This direct assistance donation is not tax deductible, but it’s what a lot of folks need. Farmworkers have been out of work and displaced from their homes because of the floods. Nearly all farmworkers live paycheck to paycheck and aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance, etc.”
Community Bridges (https://communitybridges.org/donate/) is working directly on this. They are a Watsonville based non-profit organization that serves Santa Cruz County. Donors will be asked to specify if this is for flood relief.
The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County (https://www.cfscc.org/funds/disaster-fund) and the Community Foundation of Monterey County (https://www.cfmco.org/monterey-county-storm-relief-fund/?fund=31812) are both collecting funds for foot relief.
Photos: Pajaro flooding relief, March 2023.