FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance specialists arrive as more rain hits the North Valley

Jessica Harrington Image
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance specialists arrive as more rain hits the North Valley
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The systems moving through the area have brought renewed fears over flooding.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The systems moving through California have brought renewed fears over flooding in the North Valley.

A flood warning was back in place on Monday for Bear Creek in Merced County.

The wet weather is hitting the area on the first day FEMA officials are meeting with residents.

Early Monday, morning rain flooded Driftwood and Bear Creek Drive again.

The area was hit hard last week and people's apartments and condos were destroyed.

"We work hard to get what we have so to lose everything - it's hard," Sandra Lopez said.

She was trying to salvage what was left at her home.

Across the street Kelene Cahill was helping clean out her son's condo that he purchased just four months ago.

"He put a lot of work into it to get it ready and we watched it get washed away," Cahill said.

The floor inside was covered in dirt and mud.

Cahill was concerned over her family's health as they cleaned it out because bits of, what she believes is, mold have started to appear.

The cleanup came as the city was hit hard again by heavy rain, hail, thunder and lightning Monday afternoon.

A flood watch remained in effect Monday afternoon.

Officials are monitoring Bear Creek which was expected to rise to 22 feet.

At 23 feet, flooding is possible.

Residents are asked to stay off of the Bear Creek Trail which is eroding.

Meanwhile at the fairgrounds, it was the first day that FEMA had Disaster Survivor Assistance specialists available.

"The only need that somebody has to have in order to engage with our FEMA folks is the need for assistance," said FEMA's Merced County Division Supervisor Kevin Wasiewski.

Wasiewski says people who were impacted can visit the fairgrounds to get registered into their 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 there are state and county resources that can help get them back on their feet.

"We're a team so whether it's federal assistance, local assistance we're going to figure out what that looks like for everybody," Wasiewski said.

Impacted residents can register themselves with FEMA by clicking here.

County and state officials are still figuring out if they should make the fairgrounds the primary location for FEMA, mobilize them, or set up another location, because more crews are on the way.

If the fairgrounds remains the primary location, county officials say they're already looking at transportation options for residents who need help getting down here.

That will all be decided in the coming days.