Pescadero resident Kelly Greenwood is a stay-at-home mom. Normally, she has the whole day to herself to get organized and get work done before her husband and 12-year-old daughter get home. But now, she tiptoes through her living room, which is more like an open-plan office, and makes sure everyone is following a routine.
Normally, Greenwood is the one who does the grocery shopping for the house, but she’s immunocompromised, so she’s staying away from the stores for now. “It feels like the world changed overnight,” Greenwood said.
South Coast residents like Greenwood are resilient. They’re used to the threat of wildfires and more mundane things like road closures and power outages. They know how to navigate living remotely, but even they are not immune to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the county and state have instituted shelter-in-place orders, organizations, schools, farms and residents on the South Coast are working together even as they must remain apart.
Greenwood said her neighborhood is well-equipped for any emergency. They all have radios and backup energy sources in their homes.
“In a way, I think we’re better set up for this,” Greenwood said. “Maybe it's just that we’re all so primed for emergencies.”
All across town, residents and business owners say the same thing. Dee Harley of Harley Farms said that chaos is part of daily life on a farm, and that keeping the farm running and the goats fed keeps her busy with a sense of normalcy. While the farm is closed to tourist visits, she’s seen a rise in grocery stores ordering their cheese, and is setting up online ordering and delivery all the way up to Half Moon Bay.
“I think, if we’re going to go through something like this, this is a pretty good place to be,” Harley said. “We have access to food and a lot of practical people who are able to mobilize.”
Loma Mar store manager Amy Wilkins and chef Marci Steiner agreed. They said they’ve heard how neighbors are coordinating to minimize grocery trips. At the store, their priority is making sure local residents have enough food and supplies, so they’re open from 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and are staying closed on the weekends to stave off the tourists.
“What we’re hearing from our local people is how nice it is to come in here and get mashed potatoes and meatloaf and roast chicken and saying, ‘Oh good, we don’t have to go to Half Moon Bay,’” Steiner said.
Annalisa Miranda works at the Pescadero post office and knows all her customers by name. She said she feels lucky to live in such a tight-knit community. She is keeping her doors open, literally and figuratively, so residents don’t have to touch dirty surfaces to get their mail and she’s even offered to deliver packages herself to older customers.
Local farms are pitching in as well, trying to help fill shortages in fresh eggs, meat and produce that local grocery stores are reporting. Blue House Farms has opened its farmstand to sell local produce, and employee Tiago Sobral said he expects demand to go up while grocery stores are looking thin.
Puente Executive Director Rita Mancera held a video conference meeting on Monday that outlined Puente’s response to the crisis and current operating status. Mancera said, as local camps and restaurants close and as seasonal workers struggle to find springtime jobs, Puente is getting requests for financial assistance and for help applying for unemployment.
“It can be hard for low-income people to ask for help,” Mancera said. “... So, we know the requests are going to triple.”
Puente has set up an emergency crisis fund to support work with local families. Mancera said donating to the fund is the best way for the community to get involved, and said she will reach out if Puente needs more volunteers. Right now, Mancera said Puente staff are hard at work connecting people with what they need, be it food, jobs, school supplies or mental health support.
“I’m filled with gratitude with the way everyone has stepped up,” Mancera said.