Chaos in Tulare County shows need for advance flood planning

High flood flows in Tulare County are causing levee breaches. Levee breaches on Deer Creek and Poso Creek are currently endangering Allensworth, a California town that was founded by African-Americans, as well as the town of Alpaugh. For more background on Allensworth, see this article.

Los Angeles Times reporter Ian James drove to Allensworth and interviewed Jack Mitchell, the 83 year old staff for the Deer Creek Flood Control District and the volunteers from Allensworth who were fighting to save their town. See A California town’s frantic fight to save itself from floods

To save Allensworth and the nearby town of Alpaugh, Jack Mitchell needs to make a cut in the banks of the Homeland Canal, owned by the JG Boswell company, to allow high flood flows from Poso Creek to drain into the canal. But the Boswell company has placed a land plane, a heavy piece of equipment at the intersection of the Homeland Canal and Poso Creek, and threatened Mitchell with arrest if he moves the land plane.  The Tulare County Board of Supervisors has failed to take action on the situation, Mitchell reported a threatening call from someone claiming the Board of Supervisors would have him arrested if he moved the land plane or made the cut. See Lois Henry’s report, Threats of arrest force hard decisions on Poso Creek, which could swamp two towns

This chaotic situation is a result of the complete failure of the Tulare County Hazard Mitigation Plan to do any kind of planning for routing flood flows to protect levees. From p. 91:

Extent: Currently, there is no database for the County that completely accounts for all levees and their condition. Without the location and design/condition of each levee, the extent of levee failures for the
County cannot be determined.

Probability of Future Events: Due to the lack of knowledge regarding the levee system in the County, the probability of future levee failures in the County is unknown. However, levee failure may result from a large winter storm or seismic event. Therefore, due to past levee failure history, it is considered possible but unlikely that a levee failure event will occur within the next ten years (a one in ten-year chance of occurring – 1/10 = 10%). Event history is less than or equal to 10% likelihood per year.

One thought on “Chaos in Tulare County shows need for advance flood planning

  1. I appreciate your work on this topic. Unfortunately this is actually a 4-county problem: Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern. The lack of data, as well as institutional amnesia, is part of the problem; the other part is the power structure that has left county-level authorities hamstrung for a century or more.

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