Chinook helicopter helps plug levee breach in Merced County ahead of storm

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Saturday, January 14, 2023
Chinook helicopter helps plug levee breach in Merced County ahead of storm
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As more rain approaches, officials in Merced County have been focused on breached levees and partnering with the Army National Guard to bring relief.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- As more rain approaches, officials in Merced County have been focused on breached levees and partnering with the Army National Guard to bring relief.

On Friday afternoon, Sheriff Vernon Warnke and the Merced County Board of Supervisors toured a creek bank that gave way, devastating the area near McSwain Elementary School.

Hours after the tour, a plan was made to bring in a Chinook helicopter to help close the broken banks.

"Somebody had mentioned it would be nice if we could get a helicopter in here to drop aggregate right on that hole because it was too muddy to get the trucks back there," explained supervisor Daron McDaniel

The next step was to get a hold of Congressman John Duarte. In a matter of hours, a helicopter was overhead providing the assistance requested

"We are very thankful the Army National Guard came in right away, got the Chinook down here," said Congressman Duarte.

"The hole has been plugged up, they got the water stopped. Once they got that water stopped, a lot of the moving water did stop and that moving water had gone clear to Sandy Mush road and it spilled over Sandy Mush road," added Sheriff Warnke.

The temporary solution was a collaborative effort, from farmers pointing out the problem area, to a local trucking company providing services free of charge.

"When we deal with it in real time, we can actually make a difference. But this thing about making a request and we can get you something in three weeks, that's too late," Sheriff Warnkee said.

Congressman Duarte said future plans will involve the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and addressing what can be done to prevent future flooding.

"Tonight this is all about getting that levee repaired and protecting the citizens of Merced County from these floods," said Duarte.

Crews were able to stop water overflow on Friday, but it is a only a temporary fix for now.