San Diego just experienced its wettest January day ever, and the city has declared a State of Emergency. In the wake of catastrophic flooding, clean-up crews—both official and unofficial—are beginning to take stock of the damage and the required response.
The City of San Diego said in a statement that it “is coordinating efforts with other local, state and federal agencies to ensure a comprehensive and effective response to the flooding reported in neighborhoods across San Diego.” City officials are providing updated road closure, evacuation, and other storm-related information at sandiego.gov/storm.
Some communities in San Diego have been hit much harder in others, in particular the Encanto neighborhood and other areas in Southeast San Diego.
“Although we had an extreme amount of rain, the community members we are surveying have been telling us that they have been requesting that the storm drains are cleaned and updated [by the City of San Diego], and this has not happened,” says Laila Aziz, director of operations for Pillars of the Community, an activist organization based in Encanto. “They believe the damage would have been minimized if the infrastructure was maintained.”
Many families in these neighborhoods only have one car, many of which were ruined in the storm, Aziz adds. Combined with temporarily suspended rail service, that means a great number of residents in these areas are essentially stranded for the time being.
“The community is waiting for FEMA and they are completing loss forms for the city. Our biggest need going forward is to make sure families who lost everything are compensated and find new homes,” Aziz continues.
San Diegans elsewhere in the city and county have also lost homes and other vital property, like cars, and others have had their commercial spaces destroyed. A recurring theme in these narratives is the issue of flood insurance: Typically, regular homeowners’ insurance will not cover flood damage. Individuals must purchase a separate policy, but because San Diego rarely gets heavy rains, many locals do not carry flood insurance. People impacted by flooding are now finding themselves with little recourse for financial help.
To help combat this issue, we’ve compiled a list of people and entities who are requesting disaster relief donations around San Diego, and rounded up some official government resources.
GoFundMe, which is headquartered in downtown San Diego, has also launched a centralized hub featuring all verified fundraisers related to the flooding in SD County, as well as the winter storms impacting those all across the country. You can search fundraisers on the hub by city and state. “The hub will continue to be updated as fundraisers are verified,” says Alex White, regional spokesperson for GoFundMe.
San Diego Flood Relief Fundraisers
San Diego Foundation Flood Response Fund
San Diego Foundation has coordinated with the County of San Diego to launch the San Diego Flood Response Fund to rapidly deploy flexible resources into the community. The San Diego Foundation will match donations up to $100,000. Money from the fund will only be directed to non-profits helping flood victims. The fund is not accepting any non-monetary donations at this time.
GoFundMe: Grandmother Who Lost Her Home
Videos of an elderly woman stuck on the roof of her home went viral during and after the storm on January 22. While the woman is now safe, her house sustained significant damages. Her granddaughter, Arisa, launched a fundraiser to help cover the cost of repairs.
Fundraiser: Berry Good Food’s Campaign for Small Farmers
Berry Good Food Foundation (BGF) is organizing a snap campaign to raise money for the small farmers in the Tijuana River estuary after flooding delayed spring planting. “Once the fields come in contact with sewage, [farmers] are not allowed to plant crops for human consumption for at least 120 days,” foundation staff wrote. “This means they will not be able to count on any income for at least their first harvest and possibly longer … Most of the crops these small farmers raise go to our most food-insecure consumers in the community.”
Propagate Investment, led by BGF Board Member John McCarthy, will match donations up to $10,000. The organization hopes to raise $50,000 by mid-February. They will select farmers and distribute grants by March.
Fundraiser: Native Poppy
It’s been a rough go for one of San Diego’s favorite florists. Last year, a car drove into Native Poppy’s South Park storefront. Then, earlier this week, they suffered severe damage at their Mission Valley warehouse, losing merchandise, inventory, a vehicle fleet, and other property. Donations will support moving warehouse operations to South Park and Solana Beach.
GoFundMe: San Diego Made Factory
The San Diego Made Factory, a Logan Heights marketplace hosting several local artists, artisans, and small businesses, flooded on Monday. Every studio incurred severe water damage. The team estimates that damages will total over $100,000, a number that will only grow as operating expenses pile on. San Diego Made is hoping to raise $50,000 to offset costs.
San Diego Made Factory renter Janna Barker, who owns Isiko Ceramics Studio, has also launched a GoFundMe after experiencing extensive damage to her handmade products and studio, where she also teaches.
GoFundMe: Sweetwater Farms
Family-owned Sweetwater Farms in Bonita, which has been at its current location since 1991, was inundated with several feet of water within 15 minutes of the storm’s arrival on Monday. The property owners rushed to rescue their horses from corrals and stalls while floodwaters washed away fencing, feed, and other materials. Donations will support the farm’s clean-up efforts and help the family replace these supplies.
GoFundMe: Kind Folk Farm
Regenerative urban agriculture operation Kind Folk Farm flooded when the Tijuana River crested. The waters contaminated soil and destroyed all plants at the LGBTQ, POC, and woman-operated vegetable farm. As a result, their harvest timeline has been delayed several months. Money raised will help Kind Folk Farm rebuild and potentially relocate.
GoFundMe: K Street Kreative Studios
The beloved K Street Kreative Studios—home of San Diego bands Author & Punisher, Wild Wild Wets, Crasher, and others—endured waist-deep flooding in its office spaces, practice and band rehearsal rooms, warehouse artist spaces, recording studio, and live band room. Because previous flood damage has made the space “uninsurable,” according to California law, it does not have flood insurance. K Street hopes to raise $20,000 to restore the studios and replace lost equipment, among other needs.
GoFundMe: Keiller Leadership Academy
San Diego schools were damaged in the storm, destroying student materials. Amy Higgins, a teacher at Keiller Leadership Academy, is raising money to replace classroom items previously purchased with personal and donated funds.
GoFundMe: Military Family Who Lost Their Home & Car
The home, car, and belongings of active-duty members Freddy and Athena were devastated in the flooding. Athena had to escape the house with the couple’s three-month-old baby Amaryllis as floodwaters rose to her chest. “Swimming and fighting for her life … she was able to make it out [with] the help of some neighbors,” her sister Estefani wrote. “We ask that you can help them with donations so [they can] get a fresh start again.”
GoFundMe: Father & Daughter Who Lost Their Home & Belongings
Local business owner and single father Dan Pryor woke up to chest-high waters and rushed to rescue his daughter, Dottie, and their dog. Pryor and his family escaped unharmed but lost their home and everything they own. His friend Cynthia Cornish is requesting funds to help them get back on their feet, as they do not have flood insurance.
GoFundMe: The Mudd House Studio
A Leucadia ceramic studio flooded in the storm, wiping out supplies and causing damage to the building. The Mudd House cites a “city-issued pump malfunction” as the reason for the disaster, and this is the second flood the studio has experienced in the past 18 months. In addition to utilizing donations to purchase new supplies and pay staff, the team will decide moving forward whether they will commit money to repairing the building or simply seeking a new space.
GoFundMe: Shelltown Family Whose Home Was Destroyed
A residence in Shelltown, which housed multiple generations of the Ramirez family for more than 30 years, suffered devastating damages in the flooding. The family is seeking up to $20,000 in donations to rebuild their home.
GoFundMe: Pacific Tattoo
Pacific Tattoo owner Judy Parker lost her Logan Heights tattoo shop to flooding. The damage has also left her homeless, as she lived in the back of the business. Her sister Jane Fonda has organized a fundraiser to help, asking for community support of up to $30,000.
GoFundMe: Couple Who Lost Their Home, Car & Belongings
Diana and JB Aranda, a San Diego couple already battling health issues, lost their home, two vehicles, and everything they own in the flooding. Donations will be used for repairs, furniture, clothes, food, and other necessities for the couple, who are in their 60s.
GoFundMe: Performance Drywall Group Flood & Drywall Recovery Fund
Local business Performance Drywall Group Inc. is raising funds to support families impacted by water damage and provide drywall repairs to those without insurance. The company is documenting their efforts on their social media page.
GoFundMe: Southland Auto Body
Southland Auto Body suffered significant damage just a few months before the shop celebrated their 50th anniversary in National City. A longtime employer and source of fairly price car repairs in the community, the woman-owned business has been impacted by knee-high flooding and the loss of tools and equipment. Some cars on the premises were totaled. Owner Vicky Haye’s daughter is seeking up to $5,000 in donations to help her family.
GoFundMe: Family of 10 Displaced by Flooding
The Aguayo “village”—a property housing 10 people in four homes, as well as several cars—was destroyed by flooding on Monday. The waters also damaged all of their belongings. A friend, Ranessa Villalba, is raising up to $10,000 to help them rebuild.
GoFundMe: Multigenerational Family Who Lost Their Home
A family was rescued from floodwaters on Monday as the storm destroyed their home. Pricila Roldan is seeking up to $25,200 to support her aunt and her family. “Her, her kids, and [her] pregnant daughter need help rebuilding from the ground up,” Roldan wrote. “She was let go from her job earlier this year [and] is legally handicapped, which makes things so much harder.”
GoFundMe: Keiller Leadership Academy
Facilities, classroom materials, and furniture at Keiller Leadership Academy were destroyed in the flooding earlier this week. “The damage is extensive, and we are now faced with the daunting task of rebuilding and restoring our thriving educational environment,” says Tertia Sartain, director of academics for the academy in the fundraiser.
GoFundMe: Destination Baby Co.
Destination Baby Co., a baby gear rental service based in San Diego, had their entire warehouse flooded with over three feet of water on Monday, leaving a majority of their inventory damaged or destroyed. “Thousands of dollars worth of inventory was damaged from strollers, car seats, cribs, and much more,” says Jackie Plummer, a relative of the business owners and the fundraiser’s organizer.
GoFundMe: Perla, a Pacific Ship Employee Who Lost Everything
Pacific Ship employees lost tools and had their cars damaged in the storm Monday when the floodwaters ravaged their facility near the naval base. One of the employees, Perla, then returned home to find her apartment and family were in chest high water, and that a loved one had passed away.
“Her family also suffered the loss of her mother in law. She had passed away during the storm and was in the home when she got there, an absolutely devastating turn of events for her family,” says Jonathan Bain, organizer of the fundraiser and a colleague of Perla’s. “Perla lost all of her clothing, cookware, furniture, electronics, current living space, a family member, everything she owned. She came to work in donated dry clothes today and helped clean the flood damage. She is a hard worker and would never take a handout but I want to show her that we all care.”
GoFundMe: Pixca Farm
Also in the Tijuana River estuary watershed, Pixca Farm has now flooded for the third time in four years. “We refuse to let these setbacks define us,” read the fundraiser for the urban farm cooperative. “Our community has always rallied together in times of need, and now, we call upon your generosity to help us rebuild Pixca stronger than ever before.”
GoFundMe: Ryan Family YMCA staff
Three staff members at the Ryan Family YMCA in Point Loma Heights lost their homes, cars, and belongings in the floods. Currently, they are bunking down at a nearby hotel, which they will have to leave after five days, and one of the staff members has a one-year-old daughter. They are asking for baby supplies, and other basic goods in addition to financial support.
GoFundMe: The Alvarez family in Shelltown
The Alvarez family in Shelltown lost their home of 40 years in the storm. The family had to swim to safety as water levels rose to their chests. Maria Alvarez, one of the family members, also offers her Venmo for direct donations. She says the family is unable to finance the cost of recovery.
GoFundMe: The Rivera Family and Neighbors
A woman named Wendy Rivera says she lives on a street heavily affected by flooding. Her family has lived in San Diego County for 20 years, and had their home severely damaged in the floods. Rivera says, “Each home had about six feet of water come inside.” She says her family lost everything.
San Diego Flood Relief Resources
Community Resources in Encanto and Southeast San Diego
The American Red Cross website is being updated regularly with San Diego storm information. It includes shelter locations and advice for what to bring, how to stay safe during storms, and how to help.
There are temporary shelters set up at Lincoln High School (4777 Imperial Ave, San Diego, CA, 92113) and Bostonia Recreation Center (1049 Bostonia Street, El Cajon CA 92021). The San Diego Humane Society is onsite at Lincoln High, offering shelter for family pets, and Bostonia is offering supplies for animals.
Resources from the City of San Diego
The City of San Diego has deployed emergency teams to help in areas impacted by the flooding. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department responded to locations all across the county to rescue those in flooded areas.
Due to flooding at multiple homeless shelters, a temporary shelter has been established at Balboa Park Activity Center. Moreover, people experiencing homelessness can gain access to a bed at four different locations throughout San Diego.
Those who are experiencing power outages can visit SDG&E’s Power Outage page for updates, and anyone who needs sandbags can pick them up for free at the following locations, depending on their City Council district:
Council District 1: Pacific Beach Recreation Center, 1405 Diamond Street
Council District 2 (inland): North Clairemont Recreation Center, 4421 Bannock Avenue
Council District 2 (coastal): Robb Field Athletic Area, 2525 Bacon Street
Council District 3: Golden Hill Recreation Center, 2600 Golf Course Drive
Council District 4: Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 6401 Skyline Drive
Council District 5: Scripps Ranch Recreation Center, 11454 Blue Cypress Drive
Council District 6: Standley Recreation Center, 3585 Governor Drive
Council District 7: Allied Gardens Recreation Center, 5155 Greenbrier Avenue
Council District 8: San Ysidro Community Activity Center, 179 Diza Road
Council District 9: City Heights Recreation Center, 4380 Landis Street
The San Diego County Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk (ARCC) – Property tax relief is available through the ARCC for property owner whose home was damaged or destroyed by the recent rainstorms and flooding (amounts must be greater than $10,000).
San Diego County damage assessment survey (Note: This survey is an information-gathering document only, and will be used to determine if the county should request state and federal assistance)
Report flooding to the City’s emergency dispatch center at 619-527-7500
Those who were impacted by the storm and need to talk to someone by phone about evacuations, shelters, road closures and other non-emergency disaster-related services may call 211. Those who are hearing impaired may dial 711 and ask to be connected to 858-300-1211.