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February 7, 2023

Families, businesses recover as flood losses mount

GoFundMe pages describe damage, devastation from recent storms

The weather forecast is finally calling for a noteworthy dry spell in Hollister, but dozens of local people and businesses are still recovering from flood damage and other property losses resulting from the last several weeks of drenching storms in South Valley. 

In recent days, a number of fundraising campaigns have been posted on the website gofundme.com by storm victims who suffered losses in northern San Benito County. GoFundMe West Coast Regional Spokesperson Nicole Santos on Jan. 17 sent out a list of verified fundraising campaigns on the platform. The list includes seven campaigns posted by local families—many of them affected by the Jan. 9 deluge of Lovers Lane, from which 23 people and 16 animals were rescued by county public safety authorities. 

One of the campaigns is titled “Hollister family lost Lovers Lane rental home,” and was started by a friend of the impacted family, identified as Claudia, Willie, daughter Audree and dog Irene. “They are not only displaced, but have lost nearly everything they had prepared for their baby due at the end of February,” says the campaign on gofundme.com. 

“Claudia described a water level that rose from ankle-deep to waist-deep within one minute,” reads the fundraising site. “Claudia, who is currently 8 months pregnant, had to wade through waist-deep water while holding their family dog to escape her rapidly flooding home and neighborhood.”

The campaign, found on GoFundMe at tinyurl.com/2jw3znrf, is asking for funds to replace some of the family’s lost items. 

Another fundraising campaign describes a small commercial organic farm on Lovers Lane that suffered heavy losses during the Jan. 9 storm. Titled “Catalan Family Farm Emergency Flood Aid 2023,” the campaign is seeking funds to make repairs to damaged farm equipment and structures.

“It is estimated that 75% of crops are deemed a loss, inventory of harvests left in bins were lost, trash and debris spread throughout the farm, my trailer home was destroyed, tractors and equipment spent some time underwater and we are still unsure the extent of the damage,” says the fundraising page. “This loss is too much to endure but with the help of our community, we hope to move on and strive forward.”

That page is located on GoFundMe at tinyurl.com/4f9nskex

Other local fundraising pages listed by Santos are:

– “Lovers lane flood family,” found at gofundme.com/f/lovers-lane-flood-family

– “Flood Disaster Assistance for Llanas Family,” found at gofundme.com/f/Flood-Disaster-Llanas-Family

– “Furniture Needed for Home Flooded,” found at gofundme.com/f/furniture-needed-for-home-flooded

– “Flooding Lovers Lane,” at gofundme.com/f/flooding-lovers-lane. This page describes a family of eight that lost a vehicle and a parent’s work equipment. 

– “Helping The Hogemans Rebuild,” at gofundme.com/f/helping-the-hogemans-rebuild

GoFundMe has also created a page dedicated to fundraising campaigns related to the recent California storms, which caused significant damages from flooding, wind and rain throughout the state. The page, which includes a list of verified fundraising efforts, is found at tinyurl.com/2p9c99pm

Several of the local fundraising efforts describe water levels that rose several feet within a few short minutes on Jan. 9, when a torrential downpour—which followed more than two weeks of wet weather—quickly sent Pacheco Creek’s already high waters over the banks. 

Authorities issued repeated evacuation warnings for residents on Lovers Lane. Those warnings escalated to evacuation orders by the morning of Jan. 9. 

As the floodwaters rose into homes and parked vehicles, dozens of people had not left the area. Emergency responders from agencies throughout San Benito County conducted a rescue effort, bringing 23 people and 16 pets to safety, according to authorities. 

‘End in sight’

Since Jan. 9, additional storms dumped another 2-3 inches of rain on areas of San Benito County. More local wind advisories and flood warnings were issued over the Jan. 14-15 weekend before the latest storm finally left the region Monday. 

The storms prompted officials to declare states of emergency throughout the Bay Area and Central Coast, and resulted in power outages for thousands of customers up and down the state. 

But the latest forecast from the National Weather Service shows the skies will finally clear up by this weekend, and for the foreseeable future. 

“Fortunately, there is an end in sight to the recent deluges we’ve been having,” NWS Meteorologist Jeff Lorber said. 

The forecast includes “one more storm” rolling into the Bay Area and South Valley Wednesday night, Lorber said. That storm will bring lighter rainfall than recent storms, with between one-tenth and two-tenths of an inch of rain. The storm should move out by Thursday morning, Jan. 19. 

The storm will bring “some breezy winds,” and Lorber noted that hazards still exist from the possibility of trees blowing over in the soft soil that is waterlogged from near-constant rain since late December. 

After Jan. 18, South Valley will be “dry through the weekend and through at least the middle of next week,” Lorber said. Clear, sunny skies are in the forecast from Jan. 19-22. 

With the dry weather will be cooler temperatures, and weather experts are encouraging counties to reach out to homeless people and make sure they have shelter. Temperature forecasts for late this week include lows in the upper-30s—possibly dipping below freezing in some areas of South Valley Thursday night or Friday morning, Lorber said. 

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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