California River's Levee Breaks, 8,500 Ordered To Evacuate Amid Flooding

By Jason Hall

March 11, 2023

Atmospheric river hits Bay Area
Photo: Getty Images

More than 8,500 people were ordered to evacuate parts of Northern California after the Pajaro River's levee was breached by flooding, Monterey County officials announced on Saturday (March 11) via the Associated Press.

The break in the levee -- which is located in the Pajaro community along the state's Central Coast -- is reported to be about 100 feet wide, which led to thousands being placed under evacuation orders in Monterey County, including 1,700 residents from the unincorporated community of Pajaro. Crews went door to door urging residents to evacuate prior to heavy rainfall on Friday (March 10), though many instead opted to stay and had to be pulled from floodwaters overnight.

More than 50 people were reported to be rescued from floods by first responders and the California National Guard, according to the AP. A video shared by the California National Guard shows a soldier pulling a person out of their vehicle with flooding waters nearly reaching the driver's window.

“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,” wrote Luis Alejo, chair of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, on Twitter.

Alejo referred to the flooding as "massive" and claimed it impacted 1,700 residents -- many of whom are Latino farmworkers -- with damages that are expected to take months to repair.

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