Theresa Terry has no electricity, no hot water and her rugs are soggy, however, she walked home from work on her break, Thursday, to eat lunch in her Belmont trailer in the dark. 

Any time there is heavy rain, the Belmont Trailer Park deals with flooding issues. These past two storms have been a nightmare for Terry. During the New Year’s Eve storm, water flooded her vehicle. This past week, she may have lost her trailer. The water from the storm, earlier this week, flooded nearly 4 feet high and reached the battery of her trailer.

“I am over it,” Terry said, who has lived in the trailer park since 2016.

She will need a professional to fix the electrical issues for her trailer to begin functioning again. That’s not the only issue, she said, she’s worried the inside of the trailer will grow mold.

“I am fortunate enough to have some savings so I am not living off my credit cards, thankfully,” Terry said.

For the time being, Terry is staying with a friend, though, she is coming back to check on her home. The residents of the trailer park needed to evacuate during both atmospheric rivers this month because of the flooding. The storm that passed through the county on Monday brought 2 1/2 inches of rain to the Belmont area, according to the National Weather Service. During both storms, the county red-tagged the homes and offered hotels for the residents to stay in, although, many opted for their own arrangements. Michelle Durand, chief communications officer for San Mateo County said in an email, the county has put 51 people in 20 temporary hotel rooms.

“The length of stay for displaced residents has been on a case-by-case basis. More are placed for three days and clearly informed this is a temporary, emergency placement to give them some time to figure out next steps and connect with resources if they need. For the Belmont residents, they were placed for two nights at a hotel, then extended while the park was assessed and re-electrified,” Durand said, who added the red tag was lifted for most units.

Residents who had flood damage to their homes were placed in hotels for another three nights. Now the efforts are shifted to the American Red Cross and core social service agencies and the residents to clean up their trailer homes to make them habitable again, she said.

“For those who cannot or choose not to stay, they are being directed to the [San Mateo] Event Center where the Red Cross is operating a shelter. This gives them both a place to stay, food and access to other Red Cross resources,” Durand said.

However, the number of sheltered individuals at the San Mateo Event Center has been very low and the shelter is scheduled to close at noon on Jan. 14 unless the weather takes an unexpectedly bad turn, Durand said.

“All of these hotel stays are not meant to be long term. They are an emergency fix to give these residents in immediate crisis time to find alternative arrangements, work with insurance, etc. Everybody still in a hotel today [Thursday], will receive a call from their local core service agency and also be told to call 1-800-REDCROSS for assistance if they are eligible,” Durand said.

The county anticipates working with the residents as they move back in, repairing their units and other needs to get resettled, she added.

“As for drainage, it relies on Belmont Creek and the drainage facilities in the Caltrans right-of-way. The drainage can also be influenced by the tide since the water drains to the sloughs on the east side of Highway 101, which are tidally influenced,” Durand said.

The city of Belmont and the county are possibly coordinating a meeting with the owners of the trailer park and Caltrans to reach a solution on ways to take preventive actions for future flooding at the trailer park.

Chris Hopkins, manager of the Belmont Trailer Park, said the management has done everything they can do by pumping the water out but the water drains to the slough east of Highway 101, which are affected by the tides.

“If the water we pump drains to a pipe that is under water then the pumps are useless and it recycles the water back to the park,” said Hopkins, who added there is nothing more the management can do.

“It’s up to Caltrans,” Hopkins said.

Caltrans representatives did not return calls for comment.

Philip Duffy, who has lived in the trailer park since 2007, said floods this month were the worst he has seen. It flooded pretty badly in 2014 and then again in 2021 but any time there is heavy rain it floods at least a few inches, he said.

“It’s a trifecta of issues,” said Duffy, who added the water comes down from the Belmont hills, the Belmont Creek is across the street and the park is at a low point near the soundwall of Highway 101, so the rain has nowhere to go.

Rick Orecchia, the on-site manager of the Belmont Trailer Park, is frustrated people are blaming management when he said they are doing everything they possibly can. The trailer park management provided dumpsters and power washed the grounds to clean up the debris left behind.

“There’s nothing we can do, we are on ground zero, we are on landfill, we have the creeks right here and all the water from Belmont hills just funnels into us,” Orecchia said.

He added he wants to ask the county to be a little easier on the residents of the trailer park. Moving the residents around from hotel to hotel every few days just further displaces them from the trailer park and it is inconsiderate, and he said the county told him any dogs in the homes needed to go to a dog hotel which would cost the residents around $200 a night.

“The dogs are our family members too,” Orecchia said.

Trailer park resident Randy Chavez said his wife woke him up to move the car on Monday because the water got increasingly higher and she was afraid it would flood their car.

“There is nowhere for that water to go,” Chavez said. “Everybody’s stuff started floating down the street [during the New Year’s Eve storm], so we left and then we came back only to have to leave again.”

Chavez loves living at the trailer park because it is a tight-knit community and it’s affordable. He said he lost a lot of tools and other items outside his trailer but he felt like he was one of the luckier ones.

Samaritan House will be providing emergency financial assistance to those affected by the Belmont Trailer Park flood. Donations to support this effort can be made by clicking here https://samaritanhousesanmateo.org/donate/#donate-now and choosing "Belmont Flood Victims Fund" from the "select cause" drop-down menu.

(650)344-5200, ext. 105

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