Hundreds rescued from flooded areas as Merced braces for more rain

Jessica Harrington Image
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Hundreds rescued from flooded areas as Merced braces for more rain
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Major flooding in the North Valley has forced thousands of residents to flee to safety.

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Major flooding in the North Valley has forced thousands of residents to flee to safety.

In some areas of Merced, the water was too high on Tuesday for residents to safely evacuate.

The first responders waded through flooded streets to rescue the Vera family.

"It's crazy, I've never seen this much water ever," said Cesar Vera.

Vera, his wife and two little girls, called for help around 3 in the morning.

RELATED: Planada community forced to evacuate as relentless rain causes severe flooding

His youngest daughter has special medical needs and he didn't want to risk being stuck in an emergency.

Around noon Tuesday, they were back on dry land with just one bag filled with items for all of them.

"Whatever we could shove in when they got here," Vera said.

The Bakersfield Fire Swift Water Rescue Team was prepositioned by the California Office of Emergency Services in the Sacramento area.

Around 3 Tuesday morning, they were sent to Merced. As soon as they arrived, they got right to work.

"Our initial response was actually a person with chest pain that they were unable to access with their vehicles on hand," said Bakersfield Fire Captian Benjamin Henggeler.

People were being rescued by truck load, while some opted to stay behind.

Around town, a swollen Bear Creek has flooded streets, leading to multiple areas being evacuated late Monday night.

Robbie Stanford brought a friend to help fill sandbags for his garage. His street already has water up to the curb.

"Just trying to be prepared for what's coming," said Stanford.

While the city is bracing for another powerful storm, community members are also coming together to support one another.

That means a lot to evacuees, including Kelly Espino and her daughter.

"We're by ourselves so our neighbors helped us get sandbags and prepare and picked me up, took me to you know my mother-in-laws, it's just been such a blessing," said Espino.