Experts are warning that California’s state capital could be the next hot spot to experience massive flooding on catastrophe levels. Officials are admitting that one particular Sacramento neighborhood is in an area that never should have been settled, to begin with.
The neighborhood slopes downward from a levee that separates it from the American River, and even though officials said it should not have ever been settled, it is home to 100,000 residents. “I am just trying to imagine what three feet of water in my house would look like, and based on that, I moved things higher,” said Marion Townsend a 53-year-old resident. “And if the evacuation order comes, I want to know what I should grab.”
But models of the levee’s failure show not only a meager 3 feet of water inside homes. Some are predicting as much as 20 feet of water to flood Sacramento homes. As Northern Californians are recovering from wildfires and sifting through homes reduced to ash, officials in the state’s capital are struggling to prevent another type of natural disaster. If a levee were to break along the American River, which empties into the Sacramento River near downtown, water would start flowing into the city. Although floodgates could be quickly deployed to protect downtown Sacramento from a life-threatening deluge, the water would eventually seep in from other directions, covering much of the area in several feet of water, said Roger Ince, a Sacramento emergency coordinator.
“You are not going to see a wall of water coming into Sacramento, but you will see rapid flooding and people not able to get out of their homes, out of care facilities. They are trapped,” said Stephen Cantelme, chief of Sacramento County’s Emergency Services. “I am much more confident in our levees holding up than I was 10 years ago. . . . But I am concerned 200-year [flood protection] is not enough.”
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