WATSONVILLE CA– California Strawberry Commission BB #:153596 President Rick Tomlinson released the following statement regarding the flooding occurring in the Pajaro community and along the Salinas River.
“This week’s flooding events along the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers have been devastating for those communities. Preliminary assessments estimate hundreds of millions in losses and thousands of people displaced in the town of Pajaro. The entire California strawberry industry would like to thank the first responders, aid organizations and volunteers who have helped begin the long recovery process.
We are thankful that the Pajaro River levee breach is being repaired. Stopping the river from flowing into the community is the first priority. This is a good start toward a safer place to live, raise a family, and work.
The foreseeable future will be challenging. Families will work to restore their homes, their jobs, and many other aspects of their lives.
Farms face a massive cleanup. As soon as the cleanup is complete, farmers will begin the process of preparing the fields and starting over.
For the farms that were flooded, this catastrophe hit at the worst possible time. Farmers had borrowed money to prepare the fields and were weeks away from beginning to harvest. Disaster relief and emergency financial assistance will be critical for both the residential community and the farming operations.
California strawberry operations, most of which are multi-generational and family-owned, will remain vital to the damaged areas during the recovery and well beyond.
California’s 400 family strawberry operations create 70,000 jobs in the state and invest 97 cents of every dollar back into the community. That commitment will only grow as the damaged area recovers. Despite the challenges, California strawberries from Oxnard and Santa Maria are increasing shipments to stores and will reach three-year average levels by early April.
“Times are tough, but the town of Pajaro, the surrounding communities and the strawberry farming families are more resilient than ever and we will work together to recover,” Tomlinson said.