MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — The Pajaro Levee near Santa Cruz breached around midnight Saturday after the most recent atmospheric river began dumping rain in the area, according to the County of Monterey.
A mandatory evacuation has been in place for the community of Pajaro since the levee breached. When the breach happened, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency and the California Department of Water Resources were both at the site working on flood prevention at the levee. The levee is upstream from the small community of Pajaro, and an evacuation order was issued that impacted more than 8,000 residents.
Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, North Monterey County Fire, and CAL FIRE all participated in door-to-door evacuation efforts starting as early as Friday. However, many of the residents in the area chose to stay and had to be evacuated by authorities.
Video from the scene shows one resident pulled from a vehicle by the California National Guard. Another video shows evacuees waiting atop the Pajaro Bridge before being transported to local shelters.
Wells across the Pajaro Sunny Mesa Water District were impacted by floodwaters on Friday, and county officials believe the water may be unsafe to drink and cook with. Residents were advised to only drink bottled water.
Officials also warned that treating the water at home by boiling, freezing or filtering it will not make the water safe. Floodwaters can contain raw sewage, animal waste, toxic substances, chemical compounds, fungus and bacteria.
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Residents in Pajaro weren’t the only ones impacted by flooded roadways and downed trees. From Gilroy to Santa Rosa, drivers and emergency services were met with tons of challenges due to the added moisture.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.