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Campus and Community

After Historic Storm Delays Quarter Start, Students Help Community Recover

The entrance to the Cal Poly campus during a rainstorm in January 2023.
Written By Gabby Ferreira and Diego Abeloos

A powerful winter storm delayed the start of winter quarter for two days and caused mudslides, flooding and property loss around San Luis Obispo County. 

The life-threatening storm on Jan. 9 canceled both in-person and virtual classes and closed campus to all non-essential operations. Several roads around campus were closed due to the storm, along with Poly Canyon. 

Campus reopened and classes officially started on Wednesday, Jan. 11. 

Two Cal Poly students wearing KN95 face masks as they clean up homes in Los Osos that were damaged by flooding from a powerful winter storm.
Madi Bennett-Wells, left, and Lily Fulton, right, clean up a home in Los Osos. John-O Roberts

As the local community began to assess the damage, students in Cal Poly’s inaugural cohort of the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program assisted with cleanup efforts. 

More than a dozen Cal Poly students helped residents in the Vista Court community in Los Osos clean up their homes after they were damaged in mudslides. Students in the program also pitched in with general clean-up and restoration efforts at First Fruits Farm and the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden.

“Our students are members of this community too, so when they saw other local residents in need, they decided to step up and help,” said Allison Priola, program manager for Cal Poly’s AmeriCorps Programs. “It’s been a rewarding and humbling experience to see them roll up their sleeves and help their community members — including some who are elderly — by cleaning up mud and other debris that flooded their residences. It’s times like these when you see the best in others, and I’m proud of the way our students responded.”