Weathering the Storm

Caltrans workers inspect the Highway 68 bridge where it crosses the Salinas River near Spreckels on Friday, Jan. 13. Despite fears the river could flood 68 and other roads, making the Monterey Peninsula an “island,” highways stayed open.

As Monterey County residents and business owners take a breath after the storm, it's time to begin the next phase: recovery. 

To that end, county, state and federal officials are opening a resource center that County Administrative Officer Sonia De La Rosa dubs a "one-stop shop." 

The center will be located in Spreckels at Veterans' Memorial Hall (90 Fifth St.) and will be open from 9am-7pm starting Saturday, Jan. 21 until Thursday, Jan. 26. There is a possibility of extending it for a longer period depending on usage, officials said Thursday at a press conference announcing the creation of the temporary center.

The center will include representatives from a range of agencies. At the state level, expect the California Department of Food & Agriculture, Employment Development Department, Department of Insurance and more; from the federal level, the Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and FEMA; and at the local level, Behavioral Health, Public Works, Housing & Community Development, Environmental Health and more. 

“All emergencies start local and end local. The state of California is here to make sure local communities have all the support they need,” Rick Ehlert, deputy regional administrator with the California Office of Emergency Services, said at Thursday's press conference in Salinas. 

President Joe Biden extended a disaster declaration to include Monterey County, making people eligible for federal FEMA aid. The direct aid is meant to help uninsured and under-insured residents; officials are directing people to first file insurance claims, if they have insurance. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration will also offer low-interest loans to qualifying homeowners, renters and business owners whose personal property was damaged from the storm, or who lost earnings because of the storm for reasons like an inability to get to work due to road closures. 

To qualify for SBA loans, people must first start a claim with FEMA; the deadline to apply for loans covering physical property such as a home or primary vehicle is March 16, and the deadline for economic injury (such as lost wages) is Oct. 16. People can seek up to $40,000 for personal property like a home or primary personal vehicle, and up to $2 million for damages to business property such as machinery and equipment.  

Free rides to the resource center, via Monterey-Salinas Transit, are available for residents of Pajaro and San Ardo. Call 211 for the schedule and transit information.

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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