Atmospheric River leaves encampment in Santa Cruz flooded

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A homeless encampment near downtown Santa Cruz was left soaked in water after the heavy downpour brought about by the atmospheric river that hit Northern and Central California, the photographs of a freelance photojournalist, along with video footage, show, SFGATE reported.

Alekz Londos, a Santa Cruz resident, said he used a drone to document the impact of the rain in the huge tent neighborhood in the Benchlands area of San Lorenzo Park to push for awareness on the need for the city to have more affordable housing.

“It’s frustrating when people are lying on the ground in the rain. They’re in wheelchairs in the rain. Why has our society allowed this?” Londos said. “There’s no affordable housing, it’s so limited.”

An average home in Santa Cruz is valued at $1.3 million, being a county that is often included in the list of most costly places to reside in the country, Zillow said.

Early this year, a federal injunction authorized the Benchlands encampment. The city said that it has continued to welcome people looking for a place to camp as Santa Cruz also prepares other temporary sheltering set-ups.

In a statement, the city said that people at the Benchlands encampment as well as in a location near the cemetery were informed by the deployed staff from different departments about the coming storm. The city staff “strongly encourage them to seek higher ground … out of harm’s way.”

But not everyone got the warning. Londos captured live Facebook footage when he went to the encampment on Monday and talked to a man saying he did not receive the city’s message.

The city has also deployed an ad hoc emergency response team after the shifting weather and flood forecast on Monday. The response team helped in the evacuation and support efforts.

A temporary shelter was also opened by the city’s Public Works Department on Monday intended for affected individuals. They were brought to a parking garage and were provided with 100 sleeping bags and pads, water and food supply by Santa Cruz County.