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Santa Maria Sun / Cover Story

The following article was posted on January 18th, 2023, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 47

Community members raise funds for flood-damaged Orcutt households


The muddy water inside Orcutt resident Rob Draper’s home was up to his knees by the time he and his family evacuated their house, during the night of the Jan. 9 storm.

The Jan. 9 storm resulted in two colossal sinkholes in the Orcutt area, including this one on the corner of Franklin Road and Country Hill Road.

Upon exiting the front door with as many belongings as they could carry, the family of five attempted to reach one of their cars parked in the street. The Drapers were quickly flagged down by some firefighters, who offered the family a lift. 

“They convinced us to catch a ride with them,” said Draper, who hopped into the fire engine with his family and asked for them to be dropped off at the Radisson Hotel in Santa Maria, where they’re still staying as of Jan. 17.

Draper said he has returned to his yellow-tagged house, near the corner of Country Hill Road and Franklin Road, at least once a day since then to clean and salvage what he can. Parts of the roadway and sidewalk in front of Draper’s yard are coned off, as his house is directly parallel to a massive sinkhole that resulted from the Jan. 9 rainfall.

“We got lucky in the respect that nothing sentimental was lost,” said Draper, who was able to grab some photo albums and other nostalgic items after gathering the essentials, just before evacuating, but will have to replace nearly all of his furniture and appliances damaged by the flooding.

On Jan. 11, Draper’s sister-in-law, Longina Ramirez, started a GoFundMe page to help the family recoup their losses. As of Jan. 17, $3,500 has been raised from a total of 45 donors.

Ramirez isn’t the only local resident who decided to take the GoFundMe route to support an Orcutt household damaged by the storm. Rosalynd Sena started a fundraiser page for her sister’s family on Jan. 11, whose home in Orcutt was flooded. The house is located by another colossal sinkhole in the area, near the intersection of Union Valley Parkway and Bradley Road.

Sena’s fundraiser has raised $13,765, as of Jan. 17, from a pool of 214 donors.

To support two of her longtime friends, local resident Ana Garcia started a GoFundMe page on Jan. 10 on behalf of husband-and-wife Craig and Alex Cullen, whose house on Parkland Drive in Orcutt was flooded during the Jan. 9 storm.

Alex and her son evacuated their home that night to stay with some relatives in town, while Craig was stuck in Oxnard. That morning, he was on his way back home from Los Angeles when his truck hyrdroplaned and crashed into a median barrier on the 101, Garcia said.

Garcia joined Alex in returning to her home on Jan. 10. First they went to Lowe’s to pick up trash bags and cleaning supplies around 7 a.m., before entering the house around 8 a.m.

“It was very somber, seeing all the damage,” said Garcia, whose GoFundMe page for the Cullens has raised $19,188, as of Jan. 17, from a total of 242 donations. 

“There was nothing in their house the water didn’t touch,” Garcia said, “except the clothes that were hung up high.”

Weekly Poll
How have the winter storms impacted your life?

Minor inconveniences, like brief power outages, kids home from school, etc.
Major flooding and property damage.
Stuck at home due to road closures.
I haven't been impacted at all.

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