Farms in California face a massive cleanup after a powerful storm brought heavy rains and flooding to the Golden State.
In Monterey County, thousands of residents were evacuated after the Pajaro River’s levee was breached by flooding from an atmospheric river that pummeled the state and damaged over 20,000 acres of agriculture and farmlands.
"This week’s flooding events along the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers have been devastating for those communities. Preliminary assessments estimate hundreds of millions [of dollars] in losses and thousands of people displaced in the town of Pajaro," said California Strawberry Commission President Rick Tomlinson in a statement.
Strawberries grow along the California coast on about 35,000 acres of land, and the state produces nearly 90% of America’s strawberries, according to the California Strawberry Commission.
Even though a large portion of this land was flooded, the commission says they will increase shipments of strawberries from their Oxnard and Santa Maria farms to stores across the U.S. to keep up with demand.
According to the statement, the storm came at "the worst possible time," as farmers had recently borrowed money to prepare the fields and were weeks away from beginning to harvest. Monterey County officials stated the damage to land also caused "a significant loss of jobs."
While cleanup is underway, the chair of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, Luis Alejo, said on Twitter the damage caused by the storm will take months to repair.
So far this winter season, California has been battered by 11 atmospheric rivers, prompting President Joe Biden to issue an emergency declaration to release federal aid to the state.