Moving in and moving forward after January flooding at Village Green in Rolando

The apartment complex was one of the many to be affected by the historic storm on Jan. 22 in San Diego

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It's been a long five months for the thousand-plus San Diegans who lost their homes, and everything in them, during January’s historic flooding.

“It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t easy, “ Monica Hill said. “I’m still trying to do my everyday lifestyle: Go to work, you know, handle my situation at home or in the community, and different things like that. It was just hard to live my everyday lifestyle and deal with this at the same time.”

Hill, who had lived at the Village Green Apartments in Rolando for 15 years, was home at the time of the flooding on Jan. 22 and described it as something that “happened so quick.”

Finishing touches being added to prepare the newly renovated apartments in Rolando for residents to move back in on Jun. 19, 2024.

“I was shocked,” Hill said, re-living the events of that morning. "I was traumatized. I just didn’t have any words."

Like so many of her neighbors, Hill lost everything other than the few items she was able to grab. Then, as the water receded, she was left to deal with the cleanup, paperwork, relocation to a temporary hotel and, the most difficult part of all, the emotions.

“Depression, stress,” Hill said through tears. “There were so many things I went through.”

It wasn't long until Hill decided to turn that fear and stress into strength.

“You know the old saying is: You don't ever let people see you sweat,” Hill said. “So, 95% of the time, that's what I did: never let them see me sweat.”

Hill was able to turn her fear and stress into strength and determination. With the help of Melissa Hernandez, founder of the nonprofit PhatCamp San Diego, and San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, the majority of residents at Village Green were able to navigate the months-long limbo and, finally, the process of moving back into their homes

“Officially tomorrow,” Hill said, while she got choked up at the thought of being able to sleep in her own bed. “It’s a blessing, it’s a big blessing.”

Aside from a good night’s rest, Hill is also looking forward to having a home-cooked meal.

“I’d really love to have some of that good ol’ spaghetti and a salad, French bread with it, you know?” Hill added. “One day at a time. Let the journey begin.”

A spokesperson from Elo-Rivera's office added that, while a handful of residents like Hill are moving back in, there are still hundreds of families around the city who have been unable to do so.

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