TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Residents and businesses are terrified about what the future holds after storm and flood damage still linger on Avenue 152 just outside Porterville.
There aren’t many answers for homeowners or business owners, about who is going to pay for it all. March 29 marks two weeks since the overflowing Tule River flooded homes and businesses. people are now taking matters into their own hands.
People are now taking matters into their own hands with some residents digging into their savings, to repair their homes or businesses, while they cross their fingers federal assistance gets here quickly.
“We’re going to see if they help us out or not because it’s been two weeks going into the third and there’s nothing,” said Jose Lopez, Co-owner of Los Valle’s Sales.
Leslie and Jose Lopez have rented this space for their pottery shop on Avenue 152 and Road 216 for just ten months. It’s within walking distance from the Tule River, which flooded their business back on March 15.
“All of the water over there came this way, when they patched up that side of the river, it came this way. It went up to here, up to my belly button,” he said.
The Lopez’s rented six pumps to get all of this water out and the water is gone, but the damage remains.
Leslie says $30,000 dollars of merchandise they had up for sale, simply washed away. They have no insurance in place to cover the damage, since they rent the property they have the shop on.
“It makes me sad. How are we going to eat? How are we going to live? How are we going to pay the bills? We need to do something, or we go back to working in the fields. See what we have to do,” said Leslie Lopez.
County officials came out and took photos of the flooding on their rental property, then, according to the Lopez’s, they left.
We reached out to the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services. They directed us to Cal-OES (California Office of Emergency Services) since the area was no longer under evacuation orders from the local sheriff’s office.
“They came and looked and, said okay it’s passed, and they left,” Leslie Lopez said.
“Governor Newsom formally requested a presidential major disaster declaration which will mean real money in the hands of Californians if it’s approved,” said Brian Ferguson over the phone.
Brian Ferguson is the Deputy Director for Crisis Communication and Public Affairs for Cal-OES. He says relief is on the way, but the process from disaster to relief will take time.
“We are not nearly done, there is going to be multiple weeks of probably additional flooding all throughout the region,” Ferguson said.
If the declaration is approved, it will go case by case to those affected, and financial assistance will be determined through that.
According to Cal-OES officials, the best way to make sure you’re taken care of if or when this declaration is approved is to log all damage, keep records of everything, and fill out county forms so county leaders can assess the damage and report it to the federal government.
If you’ve been affected by flooding in Tulare County, you can submit a Property Damage Report.