LYNN LA • APRIL 26, 2023
Good news: California has a near-record snowpack in the Sierra, which could ease the impact of our deep drought. Bad news: There’s a heat wave coming this week. Really bad news: If the snow melts too fast, it could help cause devastating floods in the Central Valley.
Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom went to Tulare Lake to survey the damage, speak to officials about safety plans and address potential threats from an issue he called “profound and existential.”
- Newsom: “This is for me, a surreal experience…. Honestly when I’m in a place like this, it’s usually with the worst behind us in the rear-view mirror, when in fact, where we’re standing will likely be underwater in a matter of weeks, if not months. That’s very sobering in every way shape or form.”
On the way, the governor sat down with residents from Allensworth, California’s first town founded by Black Americans, which was threatened by this year’s unprecedented rains, to discuss emergency preparedness.
Thousands of farmers, workers and residents near Tulare Lake have already faced flooding, and the threat of even more damage has officials and residents on edge. Many have been frustrated with the state’s slow response, according to Nicole Foy of CalMatter’s California Divide team, who monitored the governor’s Tuesday press event.
And even as he tried to reassure residents, Newsom misspoke that families in Kings County are eligible for federal relief, when aid is only available for public damage. (A press aide told Nicole later that he couldn’t hear the question.)
Also in Kings County, the 8,000-inmate Corcoran state prison is “in the path of potential destruction” according to the Los Angeles Times. Corcoran’s city manager Greg Gatzka has been struggling to secure state and federal emergency funds to reinforce the nearby levee, which is estimated to cost $21 million.
Last week, Nicole reported on how these floods impacted dairy farmers near Tule River. Dairy is California’s top agricultural industry, generating $7 billion a year in statewide revenue and Tulare, Kern and Kings counties are among the top-producing dairy counties. Locals had to evacuate their homes and their cattle.
In anticipation of more flooding, Yosemite National Park will shut down starting Friday and will stay closed until May 3, if not longer. And Chevron is shutting down some of its production in the Kern River Oil Field.
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