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Additional shelter space available at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds for Pajaro evacuees

Pajaro residents confront 'heartbreaking' damage to their community
Pajaro residents confront 'heartbreaking' damage to their community 02:24

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY – Additional shelter capacity was created at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds for residents of Pajaro who were evacuated over a week ago when the Pajaro River levee was breached. 

On Friday afternoon, 355 people were staying at the shelter, which now has a total capacity for 415 people. Outreach is ongoing by county staff to let Pajaro residents at other shelters know that there is additional space at the Fairgrounds, which is the closest of the emergency shelters to Pajaro in North Monterey County, near Watsonville. 

Volunteers are being sought to help sort donations. More information is available online

Cal Fire teams are doing safety assessments in the Pajaro community to determine when it could be safe for residents to return. Information on recovery and re-entry is available at 

In the meantime, customers of the Pajaro Water System, Sunny Mesa Water System and San Ardo Water District were still under a health advisory on Friday not to drink tap water or use it for cooking, even if it is boiled, due to unknown contaminants. Residents who are not evacuated are encouraged to reduce water usage by 40%, which will help expedite repairs, according to a press release from the county. 

Potable water is available at the Pajaro Valley Golf Club and is being provided in San Ardo by the county and the Monterey County Food Bank. 

The SPCA of Monterey County continued water rescues throughout the week. The organization was sheltering 216 animals as of Friday afternoon, including dogs, cats, chickens, parakeets, doves, parrots, canaries, cockatiels, pigeons, finches, a rabbit and an iguana. 

"Almost all our staff is involved with this rescue, including our disaster response team rescuing animals from flooded areas, our animal care team caring for evacuated pets, numerous team members communicating with evacuated people about their pets, and everyone supporting the disaster response," said an SPCA representative. "It is truly a team effort." 

Pet food and supplies are available from the organization at

10,700 residents in Monterey County were still under evacuation orders as of 1 p.m. Friday, including the Pajaro community, areas near Spreckles along the Salinas River, and areas of Arroyo Seco. 

More rain is forecast for Saturday night and Sunday.

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