Merced County sheriff warns people to prepare ahead of next storm

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Friday, January 13, 2023
Merced County sheriff warns people to prepare ahead of next storm
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Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke says flooding that's impacted his county is no laughing matter.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sheriff Vern Warnke says flooding that's impacted his county is no laughing matter.

"The issue is we have folks who are out there that think this is kind of a fun time but it's not. It's very serious," said Sheriff Warnke.

He said several thousand people in Planada will have to rebuild their homes and have had their cars totaled by the unforgiving floodwaters. The floodwaters have caused millions of dollars in damage.

Knowing there will be more rain, and in turn more flooding, Merced County is bracing for impact.

The county is providing sandbags and getting the message out to people to get ready to evacuate.

The sheriff says the flooding earlier this week was a lesson and he hopes residents of the county were taking notes.

"If you stay in your home and we've asked you 'hey you probably want to get out' you probably want to think about it. Because we're going to be diverting resources and it might take us a while to get back," said Warnke.

Looking ahead to the weekend, if you do end up in an evacuation zone, the decision was made with your safety top of mind.

"The last thing we need to do is lose one life here, and I mean any life including your pets, your livestock," said Warnke.

Merced County's flood water hotline is 209-385-7563. The Merced County Emergency Operations Center has listed resources live evacuation areas and sandbagging locations online.