Planada community forced to evacuate as relentless rain causes severe flooding

Alyssa Flores Image
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Planada community forced to evacuate as relentless rain causes severe flooding
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The entire community of Planada was evacuated on Tuesday after residents woke up to find rising flood waters at their front doors.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The entire community of Planada was evacuated on Tuesday after residents woke up to find rising flood waters at their front doors.

With more rainfall on the way, many residents are continuing to evacuate.

In the decades Tony Vasquez has lived in Planada, he has never seen the streets disappear underwater after a rain storm.

Tony and his family have already got out, but returned with a friend and fishing boats in tow to rescue anyone who needs help.

"We are just trying to make sure that everybody's gone. I know some people are very stubborn and don't want to leave, but it's best to go ahead and just leave right now," said Vasquez.

Residents are continuing to leave flooded neighborhoods off East Childs Avenue.

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With more rain on the way, many residents worry the water will reach their homes while they are away.

"A lot of these houses right here, it's a non-flood zone, so some of these houses don't have insurance."

Irma Moreno says she looked outside Tuesday morning and knew it was time to go.

"My husband came out in the streets, and there was a lot of roads blocked already, and the water is pretty high, so, so we thought, yeah we need to start getting our things," said Moreno.

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Lucrisia Adame came to check on the Planada market her parents have owned for over 50 years.

She found the Broadway Market had flood damage inside. Water, debris and products were scattered all over the store.

School districts across Merced County canceled classes Tuesday, including Planada schools and the McSwain Union Elementary School District.

Aerial images show a campus along Highway 140 surrounded by heavy flooding.

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The Merced County Sheriff's helicopter flew over Planada to find the most dangerous areas of flooding.

High-water rescue vehicles and boats were used to get people to safety.

"If you stay back and all of the sudden you need help, it may not be available. So, when we ask you to get out, please do so," said Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.

Sheriff Warnke says more than 100 cars in Planada are ruined from flooding.

Vehicles on Plainsburg Road are in deep water halfway submerged on a portion of the street that's cut off access from one side of town to the other.

Sheriff Warnke is urging people in Planada and across the county that feel like they are in flood danger to call 911 if they need help getting to safety.

Buses at the Dollar General parking lot in Planada will continue to take people to the Merced County Fairgrounds' evacuation center as needed.