Damage assessments underway for flooded Merced businesses as next storm approaches

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Friday, January 13, 2023
Damage assessments underway for flooded Merced businesses as next storm approaches
Though water levels are beginning to drop on Cooper Avenue in Merced, recovery efforts for the businesses that were flooded are just getting started.

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Business owners in Merced got a first look on Thursday at the damage left behind by a powerful storm that rolled through the Valley earlier this week.

Though water levels are beginning to drop on Cooper Avenue, recovery efforts for the businesses that were flooded are just getting started.

"There's two and a half feet of water in there. So, I can't do anything until Cooper Avenue drains," said Bill Bulfer, owner of a nearby printing business.

Business owners used tractors, kayaks, boats to get their belongings.

Jane Farm Fresh Foods VP of Operations Mike Jacobsen says his team took what they could when they evacuated on Monday afternoon.

"There were certain things we could get out and certain things we couldn't. One of the things we went back for today -- servers so we could get the back end online," said Jacobsen.

Damage has yet to be assessed as Jacobsen plans to set up a temporary office.

"We do disaster recovery plans every year. I cant say you're ever prepared for this, but we've thought about these activities and we have playbook that we go by," Jacobsen explained.

As does the Merced Fire Department, which used its Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Rig to escort business owners to assess the damage.

"Allowing them to go in and pull mission critical information and supplies out of their organizations," said Merced Fire Chief Derek Parker.

Over the last 72 hours, all city crews including fire, police, and public works have teamed up to keep the community safe.

With rain forecasted to come again Friday evening, Parker says the department is monitoring the weather and projected flows throughout Bear Creek, which is their biggest concern.

"Number one operational priority is to ensure that the water stays within its banks. So, we are assessing some of the levy structure and we're assessing what we can do to fight the flood," explained Parker.

In addition to answering the call for donations and volunteers, he says residents can help themselves by listening to evacuation warnings.

"It's difficult to be hard handed and tell people you have to leave but those messages really need to be listened to," Parker said.

GoFundMe has launched a hub of all verified fundraisers for businesses and residents impacted by the storms in California.