‘We can’t produce the sandbags as fast as we’re handing them out’

Volunteers fill sandbags in Watsonville on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Local)

Crews from the Watsonville’s water services and more than 100 community volunteers at Ramsay Park worked Wednesday to fill sand bags to send to residents near the Bridge Street Canal and Joyce-McKenzie Park, which have been deemed critical flood zones due to previous flooding.

“Instead of them having to come here, we’re bagging them up for them,” said Ruben Escobar, a water services crew leader for the city of Watsonville.

Escobar says his crew has been filling sand bags and getting residents prepared for the storm since New Years Eve.

Just in the last few days, and with the help of volunteers, they’ve made and distributed between 25,000 to 30,000 sand bags to Santa Cruz residents in preparation for the storm, Escobar said.

Although the crews and volunteers have already gone through 600,000 pounds of sand, Escobar says the biggest challenge is still trying to keep up with local demand for more bags.

“We can’t produce them as fast as we’re handing them out,” he said.

At Joyce-McKenzie Park, crews have been working nonstop since Tuesday morning to distribute sand bags to elderly residents around the Bridge Street Canal area.

“It was pretty chaotic yesterday,” said Joe Medina, a park superintendent for the city of Watsonville. “So we got the line moving a little faster.”

Since Tuesday, hundreds of cars have lined up along Joyce Drive looking for sand bags to protect their homes, Medina said.

Each car has been limited to 10 bags at a time, although they’re allowed to come back around in line for more, Medina said.

Residents are also being informed that they can make their own bags at a self-fill at the park, he added.


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