Crews scramble to repair broken levee near flooded Tulare County community

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The floodwaters have not made it into any homes. The big priority Monday was filling the breach with rocks and sand so the golf course and homes can dry out. (KFSN)

Much of the heavy lifting is now being done in the air as crews work to stop a levee breach that's flooded a golf course and surrounding homes in Tulare County.

So far, the floodwaters have not made it into any homes. The big priority Monday was filling the breach with rocks and sand so the golf course and homes can dry out.

Sandbags are piled high at homes along the Kings River Golf Course and Country Club, and what was a beautiful golf course view for Rick Cowin became an unexpected lakefront property Friday night.

"The first thing that happened is the pool filled with floodwater," he said. "Along with it, the fish, the debris and then everything else that came with that."

Tulare County firefighters are working against mother nature by assisting emergency crews to stop a 50-foot breach that, within minutes, flooded 14 holes on the golf course.

All day, every few minutes a helicopter has hovered above to pick up 2,000-pound bags of rocks then dropping them right in the middle of the levee where it broke. It's a desperate attempt to save homes along the Kings River.

"Those large bags will create a bulk in there, and then we'll finish them up with smaller sandbags to try to stop that water altogether," Div. Chief Pete Marquez with Tulare County Fire said.

For residents and golf course managers, a huge relief has come in a slower dam release. Monday, about 13,000 cubic feet per second was being released from Pine Flat Dam. That's 2,000 less than Friday.

Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes expects floodwater to subside within the next few days. Each analysis he's monitoring is giving a slightly different outlook.

"The Army Corps of Engineers has one, the KRWA has one, the Department of Water Resources has one," he said. "There's only one that's really good, and that's God's graph. And we'll know that as time goes by."

Only five holes remain flooded, and the greens are looking promising. The fairways are another issue. A stench of wet Bermuda grass fills the air, but the golf course superintendent is optimistic another form of green can return to his course.

"Things are drying up enough to where we might be able to get the course open maybe a couple of weeks," Superintendent Mike Kroeze said. "Maybe longer if we don't get anymore release."

Related Topics:
newsKings Rivertulare countyfloodingKingsburg
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