Recent storms have caused devastating flooding in parts of East Palo Alto. Now, community members are stepping up to help their neighbors who have lost cars, laundry facilities and the contents of their storage units due to the heavy rainfall. The Palo Alto Community Fund (PACF) and El Comité de Vecinos del Lado Oeste are partnering for a donation drive to help these residents.
The drive began on Jan. 7 and will go through Saturday, Jan. 14. Donations sought include waterproof gear, grocery store gift cards and bottled water, among other items. The storms aren't over: in a message, PACF said that its goal was to collect "emergency items these families may use not only for this storm but for the ones in the future." In addition to physical donations, fundraising for PACF's efforts in East Palo Alto is ongoing, Executive Director Lisa Van Dusen said.
Previously, PACF gave an emergency grant of $5,000 to help East Palo Alto residents living near San Francisquito Creek when the waters broke their banks on New Year's Eve, flooding neighborhoods along the creek.
Van Dusen visited the affected area and saw needs to be met beyond the initial grant, which sparked the latest donation drive. She reached out to friends, community members and partner organizations interested in helping respond to the flooding. Before long, they had a list of needs and sites where people could drop off donations, resulting in a "ripple effect" of community aid.
Van Dusen noted that recovering from the storms will be an ongoing process, especially for people whose cars were damaged or destroyed by floodwater.
"When people lose their cars, they lose the ability to go to the grocery store, to get to their job, to do the things of their daily lives," she said. "When something like this happens, it's not an instant rebound."
Van Dusen also said that she is impressed by the strength of the East Palo Alto community and the swiftness with which neighbors have stepped up to help one another.
"It's just been a wonderful example, I think, of people raising their hands to do what they can and all contributing in different ways," she said.
"We can only do what we do because the community steps forward and is playing each part," Van Dusen said.
In addition to the work of the PACF and El Comité de Vecinos, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation launched an Emergency and Disaster Relief Fund on Wednesday for the 10-county Bay Area, with a priority for San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Donations to the SVCF Emergency and Disaster Relief Fund can be made at siliconvalleycf.org.
Donations for East Palo Alto residents impacted by the storms can be dropped off at any time at either 1467 Hamilton Ave. or 1030 Greenwood Ave. in Palo Alto, through Jan. 14. A full list of requested items can be found below:
• Waterproof ponchos.
• Grocery store gift cards.
• Waterproof jackets of all sizes.
• Garbage bags — big and hefty to pack items.
• Durable totes.
• Paper towels.
• Children's medicine for colds and the flu.
• Bottles of water.
• Lamps — heavy duty to withstand the rain.