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Victims of Pajaro levee breach plan to sue counties and agencies over disaster

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION-TV)- Hundreds of people impacted by the flooding near the Pajaro River and near waterways are looking to hold several entities accountable for what they say was a failure to protect their communities.

“They don't know, the suffering that we went through. And just to shove it like nothing, you know, and we're gonna continue," Watsonville resident Sonia Corrales said.

Corrales saw her Watsonville home flooded from the Corralitos and Salsipuedes Creek. She said everything she went through, was preventable.

“I understand natural disasters occur. But this was not a natural disaster. This was the negligence of them not maintaining the levee and the creeks," Corrales said.

Corrales is one of the hundreds of other people filing claims against several public entities. Those behind it are looking to hold Monterey County, Santa Cruz County, the City of Watsonville, Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency, and Monterey County Water Resources Agency accountable for failing to prevent the levee failure.

The claims are being filed this week. KION reached out to all the five entities listed, all declined to comment directly on the claims.

However, Monterey and Santa Cruz County differed from what they’ve been doing for flood victims so far.

“The County Department of Emergency Management is working with a group of individuals to create this recovery task force for the community of Pajaro," Monterey County Chief Public Information Officer Nicolas Pasculli said.

"These are areas that are known to the communities that live there, they flood all the time and we just think it's about time that they get some relief because it's it's a huge inconvenience," Santa Cruz County Public Information Officer Jason Hoppin said.

Pajaro restaurant owner Himelda Gonzalez has also filed a claim after losing her business to flooding. She hoping for change to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

"I just feel like there wasn't enough. There wasn't enough information, there wasn't enough any type of help to get to prevent this from happening," Gonzalez said.

One of the lead lawyers representing the victims tells KION, over 500 people have filed claims so far. He also said there is still no specific timeline for when the civil lawsuit could be filed.

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Austin Castro

Reporter for KION News Channel 46.


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