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Riverside County, FIND Food Bank provides bottled waters to residents of troubled Oasis MHP

The FIND Food Bank provided bottled waters to residents of the Oasis Mobile Home Park, a community that's dealt with contaminated water for nearly three years.

On Wednesday, county officials held a community meeting to hear from the park's residents. During the meeting, residents showed Supervisor Manuel Perez a notice, dated July 1, that the water in the community should not be used for any purpose, including drinking, bathing, cooking, or brushing one's teeth.

"Unbeknownst to me/us, I was told at yesterday’s relocation meeting by a resident that families received a notice that morning not to drink, bathe, or cook with the water they receive at the park. So the park owner is providing them 1 gallon of water per person per day. And that is only if that person is registered. Can you imagine living on 1 gallon of water per day in this heat?That is not humane or acceptable. Can you believe that?!"

- Supervisor Manuel Perez wrote on Facebook

More than 200 families, which is nearly 1,100 individuals, live at the Oasis Mobile Home Park which is located on tribe land near Thermal.

On Thursday, at the county's request, FIND distributed 1,200 gallons of bottled water to residents. Officials said FIND will continue to have distributions over the weekend. Residents will be made aware of the schedule for water distribution.

“As the regional disaster response food bank for Riverside County, FIND is ready to provide relief in times of emergency, like we did today at Oasis Mobile Home Park. We’ll continue distributing free groceries and water at our Mobile Markets throughout the Coachella Valley. We want the families to know that FIND is there now and always to help them through this difficult time,” stated FIND CEO Debbie Espinosa.

Water jugs fill up the Oasis Mobile Home Park

Perez thanked FIND for assisting the Oasis Mobile Home Park community.

“Can you imagine not having water to drink, bathe or cook with? That is not humane or acceptable, and, personally, I am saddened, angry and feel it’s a shame that so many of our residents have been suffering for so long without clean water,” said Supervisor Perez. “I want to thank FIND Food Bank for its immediate response to assist at Oasis Mobile Home Park and for, once again, always being there for our communities.”Supervisor Perez is coordinating with county departments, community agencies and others to assist with the community’s water needs."

A survey released during Wednesday's meeting revealed that 80% of the park's residents want to move elsewhere.

“I’m tired of buying things for my daughter so she can take a shower safely every single day. It’s not right. Their job is to have clean water for us”

- Esperanza Elias, a resident of the Oasis Mobile Home Park

There are plans in motion to move the park's residents, however, as Perez told News Channel 3's Samantha Lomibao, that takes time.

“Even if we wanted to move people out today, there's no housing for them to move into. And so and the reason for that is because there's a lack of infrastructure, so we need to be realistic about that," Perez said.

In June, the Board of Supervisors approved the allocation of $7 million for phase 1 of the Oasis Villas Apartments. The project will create new affordable and safe housing opportunities for families living at Oasis Mobile Home Park and other dilapidated housing in the east valley.

The $7 million for the project comes from a $30 million state grant Riverside County received to provide relocation assistance for the park's residents.

Supervisor Perez also said another $11 million will go towards infrastructure.

Oasis Villas is planned to be built in the community of Oasis at Avenue 66 and Middleton Street.

Oasis Mobile Home Park and Contaminated Communities

The water issues at the Oasis Mobile Home Park were first publicized in August 2019, when the Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency order at the park after finding high levels of arsenic in its public water system. 

Since then, the EPA has issued two more emergency orders at the park.

"The issue of arsenic has not changed, there are still high levels of the water and besides they have problems with the problem with the drainage," Nataly Escobedo Garcia, water coordinator for the Leadership Council, told Telemundo 15's Marco Revuelta on July 2, 2021.

This also isn't the first time officials have had to step in to provide water for the park's residents.

According to the EPA, Arsenic is a known carcinogen, and drinking high levels over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder, and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological damage

In January 2021, 20 Oasis Mobile Home Park residents filed a lawsuit against the park's landlord due to the unsafe conditions.

The Oasis MHP isn't the only area affected by the issue. As I-Team investigator Peter Daut learned last month, more than 115 communities in the eastern Coachella Valley affected.

Since November, the EPA found water containing arsenic levels above federal legal limits in at least seven mobile home parks.

In May, I-Team investigator Peter Daut took an in-depth look at the water issues in the east valley.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.

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Jesus Reyes

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