(KRON) — Governor Gavin Newsom mobilized emergency disaster response teams to regions of California hit hardest by relentless atmospheric rivers this winter.
“We’re continuing to mobilize an all-hands-on-deck response to protect Californians during this latest round of devastating storms,” Newsom said Wednesday. “With communities from San Diego to Siskiyou County reeling from recent storms, the state is working closely with federal and local partners to provide immediate relief and support the ongoing recovery.”
Newsom has proclaimed a state of emergency in 43 counties. His administration is working to maximize federal aid for storm-battered communities while state and county officials conduct preliminary damage assessments.
California’s emergency response to storm destruction has involved nearly every state government agency. According to the Governor’s Office, assistance on the ground includes:
Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol
- More than 4,000 crew members mobilized by Caltrans statewide, working 24/7 in shifts to keep roads open and quickly respond to emergencies.
- Caltrans accelerated repairs on storm-damaged roads in nearly 200 locations and prepositioned equipment at critical locations to prepare for flooding, slides and heavy snow.
- The CHP stepped up patrols and is assisting with road closures and evacuations.
- 33 Cal Fire crews are active statewide, including personnel from CAL FIRE, California National Guard, and California Conservation Corps.
California National Guard
- 125 Cal Guard soldiers and 48 High-Water Vehicles were deployed across seven counties to support flood and rescue operations.
- One Blackhawk and one Pave Hawk helicopter are on standby for search and rescue operations across Northern California.
- One Chinook helicopter is on standby to support heavy lift operations related to the Pajaro River levee breach.
- 58 Guardsmen from Task Force Rattlesnake were deployed in Tulare, Mono and Placer counties assisting with debris and snow removal.
Cal OES and Emergency Medical Services Authority
- Cal OES has pre-positioned Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid Resources in communities vulnerable to flooding, including eight Swiftwater Rescue Teams.
- EMSA has pre-positioned ambulance strike teams as well as a California Medical Assistance Team to aid in evacuations and support medical needs in communities impacted by flooding.
Department of Water Resources
- There have been 40 deployments of Flood Fight Specialists to rapidly respond to levee breaches and localized flooding.
- More than 470,000 sandbags and 488,000 square feet of plastic sheeting were distributed to local government agencies.
Department of Toxic Substances Control and State Water Board
The agricultural community of Pajaro in Monterey County was hit with the worst flooding in the state when the Pajaro River levee breached on March 11. The antiquated levee sent floodwaters pouring into Pajaro, flooded homes with several feet of water, and prompted thousands of residents to evacuate. More than 50 people were rescued by swift-water rescue crews. Evacuees were still unable to return to their homes as of Tuesday because of hazardous waste safety concerns.
DTSC personnel are on the ground in Monterey County cleaning up household hazardous waste resulting from recent flooding. DTSC and State Water Board staff are coordinating with local officials in Monterey County and other flood-impacted areas to provide expertise related to wastewater spills and water system impacts.
Department of General Services
- DGS is providing 24-hour support procuring goods and services to assist in the response to storms and flooding, including: 95,000 sandbags; heavy machinery; security guard services; accessible and functional needs showers; fuel; firewood, janitorial services; road materials; and additional shelter support services.
- DGS has procured more than 70 pallets of water, various food items, diapers, and 2,400 cans of baby formula for Monterey County.
California Department of Social Services
CDSS is working with local officials to help coordinate food, water, and other supplies such as cots and blankets to ensure that people impacted by the storms have what they need.
- 22 open shelters across 11 counties with approximately 664 people currently sheltered.
- Distributing the state’s Guide to Disaster Assistance Services for Immigrant Californians, regardless of immigration status, within impacted communities.
Labor and Workforce Development Agency
LWDA is coordinating with local partners and nonprofits to identify unmet needs and provide resources to residents in Monterey and Merced counties, including distributing information on disaster assistance for immigrants, facilitating interpreter services for outreach to Indigenous communities, and ongoing efforts to drive resources through community organizations that are mobilizing to provide assistance.
- In Monterey, LWDA is working with California Rural Legal Assistance, Center for Farmworker Families, Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, and Raíces y Cariño to identify support needed for those impacted in the town of Pajaro.
Storm disaster safety tips:
- Visit CalAlerts.org to sign up for local wireless emergency alerts.
- Pack a go-bag with important items for each member of your household, including pets, in case you’re evacuated.
- In the instance that it’s safer to shelter in place, add items to a stay box to prepare for at least three days without electricity.
- Stay off roads and out of mountain areas to allow for first responders to clear roads and get communities back open.
- If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately.