The same residents who experienced severe flooding that damaged roughly 50 homes in Valley Springs over New Year’s Eve were once again forced to evacuate over Martin Luther King Day Jr. Day weekend.
The Enterprise previously met with residents of the La Contenta neighborhood who have been engaged in a decades-long dialogue with the county over the state of Cosgrove Creek.
At around 8 p.m. on Jan. 14, La Contenta experienced its “worst flood yet,” according to resident Jon Foucrault.
Some homes and commercial buildings that evaded flooding during the previous deluge did not this time around. Damaged businesses include Ace Hardware, Alpine Gas, and 10th Green Inn, according to the Calaveras Consolidated Fire Protection District.
The department conducted multiple rescues of people trapped in homes and cars, requiring mutual aid.
Kathryne Cho was able to avoid having any flood water damage to her actual house during the previous flood, but this time the water from Cosgrove Creek was enough to make it into her home, damaging her floors.
In a letter to the editor, Roger Anderson, son of homeowner Mary Anderson said, “Eighteen years ago my parents moved into La Contenta right by Cosgrove creek. Two months after moving in they were met with the ongoing challenge of flooding. Total home remodeling took eight months and my dad raised his backyard 18 inches with road base, bordered all around with 8-10 inch rip-rap rock, and yet every year the threat still exists.”
Roger states that his mother still remains in the home 10 years after losing his father and criticized the county for its lack of action to clear excess brush and trees. He also stated that Mary, 89, has incurred $270,000 in repairs.
This is a developing story that the Enterprise will continue to cover in future issues.
The latest storm
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) posted to its Facebook on Jan. 16, “There is flooding, mudslides, and trees down everywhere. Please stay home if possible. If you must go out, slow down, and expect multiple hazards on every route you take. Do not cross flooded roadways.”
The majority of the flooding that affected Highway 26 was at St. Andrews in Valley Springs, according to the CHP. There was also flooding on county roads including Hogan Dam Road, Milton Road, St. Andrews, and minor flooding along Highway 26, from Valley Springs to the San Joaquin County Line. In the San Andreas area, there was flooding on Fricot City Road and Calaveritas Road.
Calaveras County Office of Emergency Services has posted resources online, such as lists of road closures, tips for storm safety, and most recently, notice of “emergency supplies” being made available to the public by the American Red Cross. These include clean-up supplies such as brooms, mops and buckets, cleaning products, gloves, masks, and a limited number of tarps. There are varying locations on two dates this week where these supplies may be picked up, free of charge. The first date is Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Jenny Lind Fire in Valley Springs and at Utica Park in Angels Camp. On Thursday, Jan. 19, these supplies can be picked up in Murphys in a parking lot next to Jenz Salon on Highway 4, and in Mountain Ranch at the Mountain Ranch Community Club on Washington St. All locations will have the same hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A winter weather advisory is in effect for Wednesday evening through early Thursday morning, as more rain and snow are expected to hit the Mother Lode. However, a break from the precipitation is expected after Thursday.
Area creeks are continuing to be monitored with “high water flows” observed in Murphys/Angels Creek, and the OES reports that “crews are prepared to create a sandbag levee if needed.” Sandbags are still available to the public at several locations throughout the county.
Snowpack levels over a two-week period as reported by the Department of Water Resources in Calaveras County are as follows:
Black Spring: 30 inches
Bloods Creek: 32 inches
Stanislaus Meadow: 25.2 inches
Highland Meadow: 51.65 inches
The storm brought 68 inches of snow over a 72-hour period to Bear Valley, causing the local ski resort to temporarily close Tuesday morning due to road closures, with plans to reopen the following day.
The state's reservoirs are beginning to fill back up after record lows due to drought. Many of these reservoirs still have a long way to go, however, and are far below historical levels.
According to reservoir records from the California Department of Water Resources, as of midnight on Jan. 16, New Melones Reservoir was at 38% capacity, while the historical average for the season is 66% of its total capacity, which is 2,400,000 acre-feet. One acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons of water.