California's Pajaro River breaches overnight, residents urged to evacuate

Getty Images/Linda Wooderson/EyeEm

(CALIFORNIA) -- Over 8,500 residents have been urged to evacuate immediately after a 100-foot-wide breach emerged along California's Pajaro River around midnight Saturday morning as the state has faced a series of storms.

The levee break comes as the state faces unrelenting rain, which could last until Wednesday.

"My heart hurts tonight for the residents of Pajaro. We were hoping to avoid and prevent this situation, but the worst case scenario has arrived with the Pajaro River overtopping and levee breaching at about midnight," Luis Alejo, chair of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, said in a tweet.

During the breach, Monterey County Water Resources Agency and the California Department of Water Resources were conducting onsite flood-fighting efforts at the levee due to the rising waters.

After the levee break occurred, the sheriff's office did 60 rescues from the area, according to Monterey County officials.

Four high-water vehicles are in the area, and additional vehicles are en route to Pajaro. Dive, search and rescue teams, as well as damage assessment teams are also en route, according to Monterey County officials.

"Some residents evacuated yesterday and overnight but did not leave the area and we are working on getting them transported to emergency shelters. MST is providing free transportation to shelters, and temporary evacuation points," the county said in a statement Saturday.

The Salinas River has flooded in the area of San Ardo and Cattleman Road, which leads into the community, according to Monterey County.

Restoration work on the levee will resume Saturday during the daylight hours, officials said.

State officials conducted door-to-door notification and evacuation efforts throughout the day Friday and upon the levee break.

As of early Saturday morning, officials have been assisting residents who did not evacuate earlier after receiving evacuation orders. Residents in the evacuation zone who need help should call 911 immediately, Monterey County officials said.

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, North Monterey County Fire and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection are conducting evacuations.

The Monterey Salinas Transit is transporting community members in the evacuation zone to shelters. The closest evacuation shelter to the Community of Pajaro is at the Santa Cruz Fairground. There are additional shelters in Salinas at Compass Church and a temporary evacuation center at the Prunedale Library.

Saturday, March 11, 2023 at 4:07PM by Nadine El-Bawab and Ahmad Hemingway, ABC News Permalink