EVACUATION!!!! Friday March 10, 2023
It started out as a normal Friday. We had no idea of the “not-normal” that was coming! Here at San Benito RV Campground, Paicines, California, it had been raining a lot that week. I sat down at the table and starting putting together our travel blog for the weekly post that day. Kevin was doing his remote job. It was raining hard. I suddenly saw someone in a yellow vest run over – quickly – and knock on our door. Kevin answered, since I am deaf, and we were told that the campground was being evacuated…”you can leave your trailer here if you want but you must go!” Boy does that get ya moving! We talked for about 10 seconds if we should go to a hotel or not. We didn’t know how long the evacuation would be. Kevin said, “This is our home” so we started throwing things to pack up our 2022 Alliance Avenue 5th Wheel. Kevin emptied the black and gray tanks and put some water in the fresh tank because we didn’t know where we would end up and for how long. I had breakfast dishes and pan but just put them in the sink. We got packed up pretty fast.
At first, Kevin said, he thought it was probably the campground being overly cautious but then…we drove over the one-lane bridge at the campground entrance and then he knew why everyone had to leave. The creek we thought, even laughed at the idea a few days ago, would never fill up had indeed, filled up, was over the banks and just a few inches from overflowing the bridge. This is the only way in/out of the campground. Yikes!!! As we left we stopped a worker on a golf cart and asked how we would know when the campground opens. He said they will email us.
Heading down the road past another river crossing the water was out of the banks and flooding all around including the road. We were a parade of trucks and RVs moving out. We estimate there were probably about 100 RVs in the campground.
So…where do you go, with a 36 ft 5th wheel, when evacuated? Pretty quick we decided to go to a Target parking lot we had seen in Hollister, which is about 30 minutes away. There we could get a plan together. As we pulled in there were about 15 other RVs from our campground. Kevin went over and talked with one guy who said he was staying here in the Target parking lot tonight. I was pretty sure we could stay in this parking lot for the night, too, but that would be a last resort for us.
We walked through the pouring rain across the parking lot to the Panda Express for an early lunch. We needed to eat and think. 🙂 I remember reading that Thousand Trails (a campground membership) had helped someone find a different place when they had to leave a campground a few weeks ago. So Kevin called member services; it was an hour wait but they called back. The lady was helpful and had to look a lot of places up because so many were full of evacuees or evacuated. She finally came up with Thousand Trails Russian River. I quickly looked it up on the map and it is about 4 hours away, even farther north than San Francisco. She said it was open and we had her change our reservation to that for tomorrow through the end of March. Very helpful. I continued to use my laptop to look up some campgrounds in this area for several reasons: 1- north of us is getting even worse rain and flooding 2- we really want to explore this area we are in 3- then to come all the way back down to our next reserved campground in Morgan Hill, CA the end of March is just a lot of back and forth. I found two campgrounds in Gilroy, CA, 30 minutes north of Hollister, CA. I don’t know if they had openings but the roads to them were closed due to flooding. Every direction out of Hollister practically had closed roads due to flooding. I even looked around San Jose. Kevin called one resort in the San Jose area and it is $95.00 a night and only a few sites left because of all the evacuees. That was more than we wanted to spend if we could find something cheaper. He called Bolado Park in Tres Pinos that we passed on the road. Left a message since they are on lunch break. (Never called us back.) I checked a few others out online through RV Life, Good Sam, Compendium, and even Harvest Host. Kevin then called Casa de Fruta campground. https://www.casadefruta.com/index.php The lady said they were closed for this day because workers couldn’t get to work due to the flooding but to be at the campground after 8:00am tomorrow morning and we should be able to get a campsite.
We saw a Food Bank truck pull up and park in-between two RVs just down from us. Soon a man came over and he obviously knew we had all been evacuated. He said there was a place we could go, even had hook ups, and gave us the address. I am deaf but Kevin told me the man said 3 or 4 times, if we need food we were welcome to go to the food bank. Kevin told him thanks, we didn’t need food, but a place of the night would be great.
We headed to where he told us which was just about 8 minutes away. It turns out this is San Benito County Farm Labor Association located at the Migrant Housing Center with rows and rows of housing. We saw signs for “evacuees” and followed them. We stopped at the big building and it turns out the American Red Cross had set up here for flooding evacuees. So cool! We have never had that before, actually, never been evacuated before. They told Kevin they had 4 RV spots and 2 were taken and one person was coming so we could have the other spot. We wondered about all the others who the food bank man had offered to come. Another person in an RV came up but he said he would go to the Elk’s Lodge. It turns out this place is government owned and ran by the county. The Red Cross was here for the flooding evacuees. A county worker told us to pull around and then follow him. It was some tight turns but we made it fine. Followed up zig-zagging through the rows of houses and to the back where there were some stationary travel trailers that look like overflow housing. We weren’t given a site, just pull off here, on the road, no hook ups, but that was fine. Our 5th wheel is self-contained. We were way high above the flooding and could stay there just fine. We are so thankful! Of course Kevin had to stop his remote work this morning. He told his boss we were being evacuated and he said be safe and see you on Monday (online). So nice. Once we got settled at the Red Cross Evacuation Site, Kevin put up Starlink and he did some work for a few hours. With all that is happening, we decided we wanted to go out for dinner, especially since tomorrow is a travel day…somewhere. HA
We drove out and oh, the gate doesn’t open. Well, it is the entry gate; the exit gate is way over there. Drove back around and the exit gate would open but, we don’t have a code to get in. This could be bad. Kevin parked right there and walked through an open gate in the fence to go the main building. There was a van that pulled away from the main building and the lady stopped to talk to him. He said we needed a code and she told him there isn’t a code, it is a badge. She ended up giving her county work badge to him and said to drop it off at the main building tonight. So nice! Kevin had picked Running Rooster Restaurant. There was a 50 minute wait but we figured by the time we found somewhere else and waited it would be the same or so. The hostess used American Sign Language with me and we had a nice little chat! She learned ASL 5 years ago. Her name is Nikki. It was a fun surprise. It is a cute restaurant with all sorts of American food. Kevin had a burger that he said is better than Red Robin and I had BBQ chicken, bacon, onion pizza. Delicious. Brought home most of the pizza for Kevin’s breakfast tomorrow. 🙂 We were pretty exhausted from the day and were in bed around 8:30pm. We stayed up and read for awhile. I read that another campground 30 minutes north of here was evacuated at 3:00 AM and they had to leave their trailers there, leave immediately. Wow!
To wrap up this day: we are safe, we are together, and we have our home with us. We were calm and able to think things through. So much to be thankful for.
Some answers the next day.
We slept really well; Kevin said he slept much better at the American Red Cross Evacuation Center than he would have in a parking lot at Target. We pulled out around 7:20am. The road out is a maze and the exit road is blocked due to flooding so we had to zigzag around. Kevin did great, I got out and spotted a few times but thankfully the road worked fine for us to navigate through. We headed to Casa de Fruta and saw a lot of flooding along the way. I would look at fields and say, “I don’t think there is suppose to be a lake right there.” 😦 For roads that had been closed yesterday the signs were just set to the side because they know another storm is coming. We got to Casa de Fruta and wow, what a neat place. I said later that if we have to be stranded somewhere, this is the place! It has a lot of history, the grounds are huge and gorgeous, there is a fruit stand, deli & wine building, treats, restaurant, gas station w/ diesel, a campground, and a train to ride. We pulled in behind another trailer and Kevin went to the office. Yay, we got a site. I felt extreme relief wash over me. We have a site until March 16. The lady in the office told Kevin that they usually only let people stay here up to a week at a time but since we are evacuees, they will let us stay for another week IF there is a cancellation. They have 2 clubs coming in for this weekend and they are booked solid. Thankful we have a place for at least the next few days. This campground, like the rest of the place, is great – all asphalt, long nice wood picnic tables, and all have electricity, sewer and water. We see there is a river behind here and said, oh, it won’t flood up here…and our eyes got BIG as we looked at each other and said, “That is what we said about San Benito RV Campground!” 🤪HAHAHAHA Seriously, we are much higher than the river and a good distance. 🙂 Kevin called San Benito RV Campground ranger number and a lady answered. Turns out she is staying at a hotel as an evacuee. Kevin told her about a package that was delivered to the campground for his work and that is in their office. She said the hotel doesn’t give out paper and pens anymore so please text her the information about the package. He said he would give her a FedEx label to have it mailed somewhere else. She was very nice and willing to help. (Note: this package wasn’t worth life and limb but if the campground was opening today he just didn’t want it to get shipped back in all the shuffle.) She said San Benito RV Campground is closed until at least March 21st. Good to know. I cancelled our reservation for Russian River campground that started today. It is a long ways and since we have Casa de Fruta, and Kevin has a box he needs, plus we would like to explore this area, and our next campground is back here at Morgan Hill, we decided to stay in this area longer. It was a good comfort that we had a site if needed and Thousand Trails member services helped a lot yesterday. Kevin tried to call Russian River several times but no answer so we didn’t even know if they are evacuated or not. They are getting the same storms.
At 10:30am, the San Benito RV Campground lady that Kevin talked with on the phone called. She said they were allowing a small window of time for people to get their RVs and anything they left at the campground and get it out. He asked if we could get the box and she said yes. We didn’t leave anything at the campsite there. So we jumped in the truck and headed out.
The road is closed but of course we can go to get our things. There is a long, spread out “parade” of people coming and going. Trucks going in, trucks and RVs going out. We were so surprised at how much land is flooded and the rivers flowing out of their banks. We got to the campground and stopped at the check point right before the bridge. After helping the people in front of us, the lady there told us many RVs/trucks have gone over this bridge but “cross the bridge at our own risk.” We drove to the office and no one was there. Kevin called the lady who said she would have someone there. Just a few seconds later the lady from the bridge came up. As she opened the office door and let him get the package, she said that Rancho Oso (where we stayed in December; it’s near Santa Barbara, CA) had so much damage they are closed until at least July 1. They are taking this time, since no one is camping there, to redo the roads and fix up some things. She said this here campground is closed until at least the 21st but they are looking at staying closed and doing some much need things around there. If they can find the money, she said. That is a good idea – get things in better shape while the campground is closed. It is hard for the workers who live there, she said, because they were also evacuated. I hope they will be able to find a place to stay while things get upgraded, if it does. All the rivers are way out of their banks around here. So much water. There are mountains all around so the rivers get that water besides just the rain right there.
Back home Kevin worked all day. Even though it is Saturday, he wanted to make up for missing yesterday. Might as well, can’t get around and explore right now with lots of places flooded.
We continue to count our blessings. We didn’t get upset and actually had some good laughs throughout this ordeal. It was an experience…all part of the adventure. Coming up next week I will share more things of what happened after these two very full and eventful days! 🙂
12 thoughts on “Evacuated From Flooding In California”
Oh my goodness Charla & Kevin!! Count your blessings for sure!! Considering all that you went through and all that was happening around you, the two of you, pretty much, escaped unscathed. I’m glad that you’re able to take it all in stride and even chuckle once in a while. Stay safe and keep RV‘’ng!
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Thanks Norma! It was an adventure for sure! One step at a time. It is interesting, if we had a sticks and bricks, we would have the lay of the land. We would know what hotels are near, etc. we didn’t initially know where to go except out! Then Target. Haha
So grateful for ‘cool heads’; peaceful nights sleep, helpful people along the way
GODs protection and provision
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Yes, we are grateful too! A reminder that you cannot control people or circumstances, you can only control how you respond to them.
What an adventure! I am glad you and Kevin made it through okay, and I am grateful there were so many helpful people helping you and the others. That is a bright spot in all this.
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Thank you Betty! It was a first for us being evacuees. We met super nice people throughout our whole adventure.
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Life on the road is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get. All kidding aside, this was a doozy! So thankful you two weathered the storms and found humor, good people, and blessings, throughout the ordeal.
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We are thankful too! It is funny, growing up in Missouri, 2 inches of rain was a really good shower. Where we were, there were no road ditches or drainage that I was familiar with. No real place for the water to go but in the streets and roads!
Man is my heart racing reading and seeing of all the flooding that’s you guys are experiencing first hand! I am saying, “Thank you Jesus for keeping you guys safe and sound!” Thank you for sharing your Rainy Chapter!
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Thank you! It was an exciting time. Stressful at times, but the nice thing is our home tows behind us. I am so glad we were allowed to hook up HOWIE.
Charla, are you sure you don’t want to write novels? This was a fast paced, exciting read. Very emotional too. I teared up at all the helpful kindness you received on your journey. What an amazing adventure!
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Hi Suzette, yes, she really could write a book. She is a very good writer. It was an exciting week, but we got through it.