Sandbag barrier along San Joaquin River aims to protect Firebaugh from flooding

Tuesday, March 21, 2023
50,000 sandbags added to barrier along San Joaquin River in Firebaugh
Riverside communities across the Valley are bracing for more rainfall that will raise water levels.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Riverside communities across the Valley are bracing for more rainfall that will raise water levels.

On Monday, the entire community of Firebaugh remained under an evacuation warning.

Crews have reinforced the weakest spot along the San Joaquin in hope of prevent flooding

Pete Ramirez's family has owned their Firebaugh home along the San Joaquin River for more than 50 years.

"You don't know what's going to happen," Ramirez explained. "So, there's always a worry and a concern"

They don't often see the river get this close to their home. 1997 was the last time it got dangerously close.

"You know what it's going to do and you are not going to mess with Mother Nature," Ramirez explained.

The city's Riverside Park was under 6 feet of water on Monday.

A storm arriving Tuesday will likely cause water to get several feet higher, causing a concern for public safety.

The Firebaugh Police Department says it could take 30 minutes to get a rescue crew out here.

City Councilman Freddy Valdez says the town has been mostly spared from damage after recent storms.

There is more worry than damage, I think, at this point," Valdez said.

Last year, the city spent half a million dollars on a study to tell them which areas along the river were the biggest flooding threat.

That information has paid off to prepare for more rainfall.

Cal Fire used 50,000 sandbags to build barriers at trouble spots along the river

Sandbags line the area behind the Riverfront Inn and they are protecting the city's wastewater plant.

"Especially the wastewater plant because if that floods, this whole city would be under a no flush order," said Firebaugh City Manager Ben Gallegos.

Cameras are being placed at spots around the city so officials know if they start to reach dangerous levels

"They are currently monitoring 24/7 hours. They are checking the river levels," Valdez explained.

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