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Meeting in Morro Bay addresses relief options for residents impacted by flooding

Meeting in Morro Bay to address relief options for residents impacted by flooding
Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 16, 2023

It has been a week since dozens of Morro Bay residents were wrestling with floodwaters and to this day, they are dealing with mud and debris.

“There were couches floating and moving and floating coffee tables,” described Heather Baker, whose home suffered major damage.

About four feet of water rushed into her home, which is located at the convergence of two creeks in Morro Bay.

“The thing that went through my mind was, ‘how am I going to make my children’s lives normal while we’re not in our home?' So whatever books I could grab from high surfaces, I grabbed,” Baker said.

Surveillance video at Central Coast Cart Rentals shows workers rushing to salvage as much inventory as possible as the floodwater poured into the business.

“If we’re a total loss of inventory, I’m thinking $390,000,” said Jeff Babb, owner of Central Coast Cart Rentals. “We’re at a point now where we are assessing if we’re even going to attempt to reopen, if we want to reopen.”

On Monday, the city of Morro Bay held a community meeting along with the San Luis Obispo County Office Of Emergency Services.

“We are transitioning from a response phase to a recovery phase,” said Scott Jalbert, SLO County Emergency Services Manager. “Our public works department for the county and the cities have just been working non-stop. They’ve been assessing all the damages to the public infrastructure.”

Large dumpsters are lined up along Main Street for garbage and debris.

The American Red Cross also offered assistance.

“A cleanup kit consists of a bucket and a mop, handles for those items as well as cleaning solution and gloves and trash bags,” said Clark Lewis, American Red Cross Logistics Lead for San Luis Obispo County.

County and city officials tried to reassure residents that help is on the way but it will take time.

“We proclaimed a local emergency and made a request to the state of California for assistance. That request was accepted, and now, we are going through the process of requesting federal assistance,” added Jalbert.

That is why the county has been asking residents to fill out property damage reports to be eligible for FEMA resources.

If they are approved, financial help could come to the Central Coast.

“That assistance could include money for rebuilding their home or partial money for that, it could also be for temporary housing, small business loans,” said Jalbert.

There were mixed feelings in the crowd. While some said they were grateful for the response from local leaders, others were demanding a change in infrastructure.

“The creek has overgrown. I think there really needs to be some changes, so the infrastructure that is in the creek, the bridge has pylons that go straight into the middle of the creek,” said Baker.

Babb said he would like to see an updated protocol for evacuations.

“I would’ve loved to have 45 minutes; 45 mins would’ve been the opportunity to save everything,” added Babb.

Next week, the county has a meeting scheduled with FEMA and state officials for a preliminary assessment of damage caused by storms and floodwaters on the Central Coast.

If you haven’t done so, the county is calling for impacted residents to fill out a property damage report. To access it,click here.