Police / Fire

Community helps flood victims

Hollister Firefighters' Association, Community Foundation provide gift cards to help Lovers Lane flood victims get back on their feet
tony avila gift cards.jpg

Victims of the Lovers Lane flooding that began in January picked up gift cards to local businesses Wednesday afternoon at Hollister Fire Station #1 on Fifth Street, the culmination of an effort organized by the Hollister Firefighters Association Local 3395, with the Community Foundation for San Benito County.

The more than $11,000 worth of cards are meant to help those living in more than 60 residences and properties that were devastated by the recent, winter flooding.

The devastation, and what was needed on each of their property, still weighed heavily on the minds of the victims as they received the gift bags from the firefighters.

Tony Avila picked up his gift bag along with Zenon Avalos and another friend, all residents of Lovers Lane.

“We lost everything, and will be replacing it," Avila said. "I’m trying to fix the houses up. There was the first flood, and then in one month, there were six more in Lovers Lane and San Felipe Road.”

The three friends, holding the bags of gift cards, were smiling and grateful for the help.

Julie and Richard Hogeman experienced the devastation of five floods.

“We still have standing water on the four acres of the nearly five acres we own," Julie Hogeman said. "The home is OK, but all the out buildings are destroyed, and there is still water under the mobile home on the property. It knocked down the support system."

She said she was grateful for the bag of gift cards but had not yet seen what was included inside.

Julie’s brother-in-law, Woody Hogeman, agreed the flooding was a big mess. “There is water all over the place. I had to replace cabinets in my office and tear out the sheet rock out. There was three feet of water in the office and underneath. I live in the flood plain and had to (prior to the flooding) raise the house up one foot above by law, and that saved the house,” he said, holding the bag of gift cards.

Firefighter Union President Vince Grewohl said the community was generous with the gifts, which included cards for such businesses such as Home Depot and grocery stores.

He mentioned four of the many restaurant donors, including Cozy Cup Café, Country Rose Café, Running Rooster and Round Table Pizza.

Juli Vieira, president of San Benito County Chamber of Commerce, volunteered to help separate the gifts into individual bags. She was on hand during the gift giving with the firefighters Grewohl and Vincent Munoz along with county Supervisor Mark Medina.

“Each bag has something different from various businesses, but they all have the same amount of value,” Vieira said.

Sheena Lamar, manager of Running Rooster restaurant, shared the reason for the restaurant’s generosity: “The restaurant exists because of the community, and we want to make sure that we support the victims of the floods, who come from the community we serve,” she said.

Round Table Pizza donated passes for family pizzas.

“We like to do as much as we can to help out the community. My husband, Michael, and I believe in giving back,” said Allison Sicoli, owner of Round Table Pizza.









BenitoLink Staff