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The Madera Tribune

Yes, folks, it could happen here

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webmaster | 09/17/13

The flooding in and around Boulder, Colo., seems horrible to us who so far are enjoying a dry, balmy almost-autumn. Thank goodness, many of us probably think, nothing like that could happen here.

Sorry, but it could happen here.

In 2004, a cloudburst resulted in flooding in downtown Madera. We remember it particularly well here at The Madera Tribune. In what seemed like no time at all, we had four inches of water in our offices and pressroom. It took weeks to dry the place out. Fortunately, our rolls of newsprint were sitting on pallets that were just high enough to keep the paper dry — just barely.

The Fresno River, which had been moderately flowing from a light but steady rain, suddenly began to roar, with waves pushing against the frameworks and bottoms of the decks of the bridges spanning the river.

Irrigation canals were overflowing. Some storm drain pumps, even though they were going full blast, couldn’t handle the load.

The flooding was nothing like what the folks around Boulder are experiencing, but we should never forget that the nature of the place where we live makes us susceptible to unexpected flooding.

First, here in the Valley, we’re doubly vulnerable. A lot of water can come down from the hills fairly quickly, and the fact our valley is relatively flat means that once it gets here, it flows out of the relatively shallow waterways rather quickly.

Add that to the fact that our waterways aren’t exactly flood-water ready. All the vegetation that has accumulated in the river beds and stream beds will slow the flow of flood water, which will overflow the banks and even breach them.

The floods themselves are bad enough, but the cleanup that follows is worse.

No doubt our county supervisors are thinking about this as they see what the people of Colorado are going through.


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