Flood operations meeting yields little good news as water continues to wreak havoc in the San Joaquin Valley

March 22, 2023
by Lois Henry
First responders, water managers, roads experts and others crowd around a large map Wednesday to better understand where flood water is causing issues and where it's likely headed. Lois Henry / SJV Water
Lois Henry

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At an all-hands-on deck flood operations briefing Wednesday morning at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, the reports were quick and grim.

An incident map shows multiple “hot spots” where flood waters are causing damage. Lois Henry / SJV Water

A bridge over Cross Creek in Kings County had just washed out at Houston Avenue south of Hanford, the CalTrans rep told dozens of emergency workers from fire, roads, rail and water districts mostly from Kings and Tulare counties.

The meeting was organized by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, CalFire, which is coordinating with the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services to get a handle on widespread damage unfolding in the region after an onslaught of atmospheric rivers brought historic flooding starting March 10.

  • Train traffic was still paused as tracks along Highway 43 were surrounded by water and a status report wasn’t expected until Wednesday afternoon.
  • Antelope Creek in Woodlake had popped up overnight and headed toward previously flooded homes but was diverted.
  • Deer Creek continues to have “a lot of breaches” west of Highway 99, though water levels have receded a bit.
  • A section of the north branch of the Tule River near Highway 99 just south of Avenue 184 that broke Tuesday afternoon was “holding.”
  • And agencies were putting more law enforcement on Highway 43 to stop people from driving around barricades on the flooded out roadway.
Responders from multiple agencies listen to an operations briefing Wednesday at the International Agri-Center. Lois Henry / SJV Water

While attention has been focused on flooding in southern Tulare and Kings counties, responders were urged not to forget about northwest Kings County where the Kings River is running at more than 7,800 cubic feet per second with Pine Flat reservoir approaching its capacity of 1 million acre feet.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the lake held 784,000 acre feet.

Another storm is expected next week, with another coming behind that one.

“We are in this for the long haul,” one speaker said.

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


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