Zoo animals evacuated, Bear Creek banks reinforced in Merced ahead of storm

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Saturday, January 14, 2023
Zoo animals evacuated, Bear Creek banks reinforced in Merced ahead of storm
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Efforts were underway in Merced on Friday to protect people, property, and zoo animals from the next round of rain.

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Efforts were underway in Merced on Friday to protect people, property, and zoo animals from the next round of rain.

In addition to downed trees, dislodged sediment, and erosion, the trail that borders Bear Creek has city and state crews working to fortify areas of concern.

"Whenever I see these barriers, I take heed and go a different direction to avoid an accident," said Rick Hotchkiss, a resident.

Hotchkiss gladly took the detour prioritizing safety, as he says the recent rain was eye opening.

While his home is raised, he's preparing for the incoming weekend storm.

"Going to get a couple of bags of sand," said Hotchkiss. "Put it just in my driveway because my driveway is not barricaded from that flooding.

In addition to re-enforcing portions of Bear Creek, the Merced Parks and Community Department, which oversees the Applegate Zoo, initiated evacuation protocols for the animals.

The City of Merced says the move was made out of an abundance of caution.

"I'm glad they're rescuing the animals. You never know with what happened with 59 and 16th Street, you never know what is going to happen," said Anne McCarthy.

McCarthy has lived in her Merced home since 1965, but hasn't seen Bear Creek crest since she was a child.

"I've been worried. We got evacuated Tuesday at 2 in the morning, we got the sand bags," McCarthy said.

After seeing Highway 59 and several areas of flooding, she is taking extra precautions by bringing more sand bags and packing necessities in case she's evacuated again.

The last storm system was eye opening for many and officials say now is the time to have a plan.

Make sure to take all evacuation warnings and orders seriously.