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City of Guadalupe adapts to dangers of constant winter storms

Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 16, 2023

This past January’s storms battered several properties in Guadalupe, displacing roughly 20 people from their homes.

However, when the most recent downpour struck the community, local leaders say the city as a whole was more prepared.

On Tuesday, people living on Pioneer Street, one part of town that was severely impacted in January, were once again advised to leave home due to the potential for flooding.

Driveways leading up to the homes on Pioneer Street that were flooded with mud and rainwater two months ago were lined with fortresses of sandbags to prevent the same thing from happening again.

“We went down there and went door to door talking with our residents. Some of them were able to leave. We moved cars out of the way well ahead of time,” said Guadalupe Police Chief Michael Cash, who also serves as the city's public safety director. “If you look at it from when we first started, we were like a 2, now we are like a 9 now in terms of preparations of things.”

Chief Cash says when this year’s string of winter storms first hit, limited city resources and a lack of prior experience in dealing with severe storm situations hindered response efforts.

“We really only have two to three ways into town, and with that, we have two bridges at the north end of town and south end of town and those, as far as those streets, were cut off. So our only lifeline was on [Highway] 166 towards Santa Maria so we were isolated,” he said.

As a result, since January’s storms and throughout the others that followed, locals like Marcus Sanchez have stepped in to lend a hand.

“During the floods over here when everyone’s houses got washed away, the city put them up in the apartment complex and they came to us and were like, 'Hey dude, all these people lost everything so can you cook for them?' and so without hesitation I was like, 'Yeah, come on through.”’ said Marcus Sanchez, executive chef at the Guadalupe Senior Center.

Sanchez says he has lived in Guadalupe for most of his life, and in the midst of these dire circumstances in his neighborhood, he didn’t think twice about helping those impacted.

“There was a lot of kids man, just grabbing, they were grabbing onto their moms saying, 'Are we going to die?' They were scared, and that sucked to hear but it was nice to have them come in to eat a hot meal,” Sanchez said.

He says the Guadalupe Senior Center will continue providing meals and groceries to anyone affected by upcoming rainfall.

Other lifelong Guadalupe residents admit it has been an adjustment getting used to preparing for and dealing with the impacts of the continuous storms.

“The flooding has gone down to our Guadalupe Park, flooded a lot of the areas off Pioneer. it’s an economic impact. A severe impact that is hitting everybody,” said George Alvarez.

Chief Cash says crews have been routinely monitoring conditions along the Santa Maria River near Guadalupe, adding that as water levels have gradually receded, the city’s expectation for future flooding has come down too.