Merced County on road to recovery after storms cause devastating flooding

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Merced County on road to recovery after storms cause devastating flooding
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Disaster Survivor Assistance specialists from FEMA spent Monday on the ground in Merced County, meeting with survivors and helping them find resources.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- While the rain has let up for now, the road to recovery is just beginning for thousands of people who are dealing with life-changing flooding that hit the North Valley.

Disaster Survivor Assistance specialists from FEMA spent Monday on the ground in Merced County, meeting with survivors and helping them find resources.

Officials are moving forward with recovery efforts countywide while still keeping an eye on overflowing creeks and canals.

"What our families need is to ensure they get immediate resources for survival and also the long term resources to get back to their normal lives," said Assemblymember Esmeralda Soria. "Folks are staying vigilant, they will continue to do so. Right now, we have to figure out how to help those families that right now do not have a home."

FEMA specialists set up shop at the Merced County Fairgrounds to help register people into the agency's system.

All they need is a social security number. If a person does not have a social security number, but they have a child who does, they can still register for federal assistance.

If a person doesn't have either of those, officials say they should still come ask for help because they can point them in the right direction.

"We're a team. So, whether it's federal assistance, local assistance, we're going to figure out what that looks like for everybody," explained Kevin Wasiewski, the Merced County Division Supervisor for FEMA.

There are some concerns over getting aide to those who cannot get to the fairgrounds, particularly from devastated Planada.

"We're trying to figure out how we can get more support in Planada because I know folks there can't get to the fairgrounds because of lack of transportation, there's also language barriers," Soria said.

Soria says the state is working with both federal and local agencies to make sure there's enough help to go around, and get families back on their feet as soon as possible.

FEMA says people needing assistance can apply online as well.

There are several other efforts from community donations through United Way and other civic groups.

Assemblymember Soria will also be holding a donation drive on Thursday at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center on Main Street.