By Brisa Colón
PAJARO, California (KSBW) — Monterey County leaders are estimating a full recovery process in Pajaro to take several months if not years. As trash continues to pile up in Pajaro, residents and business owners continue to ask the same question: when is our trash going to be picked up?
“It’s a disaster on top of a disaster, and Monterey County has done nothing for the community here in Pajaro,” said Marialena Martinez, Pajaro business owner.
Marialena Martinez owns Mexican Meat Maret in the center of town, a family owned store that’s been in Pajaro for over 40 years, they lost everything they’ve worked for overnight.
“On one hand, we are OK because we are alive. We can keep working. But on the other hand, economically, completely disoriented because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Martinez.
Martinez’s dumpster has been sitting in the road for days due to the Waste Management strike, so they had a family friend come and help them throw out their rotting meat.
“It’s a horrific smell here in Pajero because they don’t come to pick up the trash and we don’t know how long it’ll take for them to pick it up. They want everything thrown in the streets and they expect me to throw my meat on the side of the street and without bags because they didn’t want bags on the street,” said Martinez.
Waste Management trucks resumed the emptying of residential trash cans, Wednesday. In the meantime, the county continues to focus on the debris cleanup and says they plan to increase their staffing to six teams by Thursday.
“We are estimating our first pass and they will likely take four to six weeks to clear off the debris and I know it may seem that the progress is slow because once we take one out of stuff, people are then able to put out additional things from their home, which we are encouraging. We are not going to just go down the street once,” said Laura Emmons, Monterey County Office of Emergency Management.
But residents say the process isn’t moving fast enough.
“We really do appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding that recovery is far more complex than response,” said Kelsey Scanlon, Monterey County Office of Emergency Management.
Small business owners say the road to recovery is going to be long and expensive.
“I barely finished paying the SBA loans from 1995. And we’re almost at a point to retire and stop working, and with this disaster, to get stuck with more loans, no,” said Martinez.
Monterey County leaders say they are moving as quickly as they can while being mindful with funding, so they can maximize reimbursement from Federal Emergency Management Agency if and when a disaster is declared.
There is now a new drop-off location on Salinas Road and Railroad Avenue for residents who wish to drop off their debris instead of placing it on their driveway.
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