Crews clean up debris blocking bridges in Three Rivers after storm

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Thursday, January 12, 2023
Crews clean up debris blocking bridges in Three Rivers after storm
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In Tulare County, crews are working to clear dirt and debris from bridges after heavy flooding cut off some communities in the foothills.

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- In Tulare County, crews are working to clear dirt and debris from bridges after heavy flooding cut off some communities in the foothills.

In the small community of Three Rivers, several roads connected to bridges residents rely on were washed out during Monday's strong storm.

Conley Bridge on South Fork Drive is the only way in and out of one area where up to 150 people live.

"I just knew there was going to be a lot of people stuck without emergency services," said Kacie Fleeman. "Honestly, we all just decided, 'okay we are stuck here and if people need food or they are trapped, we are going to do the best we possibly can.'"

Parts of the road are spread out from the strong currents, and debris is now piled off to the side.

Wednesday, Tulare county crews worked non-stop to connect the bridge as a temporary solution bringing some relief.

Two East Coast friends with plans to explore Sequoia National Park were also stuck on that side of the bridge.

They were staying at an Airbnb and say while their vacation hasn't been what they expected, they now see the community in a different light.

"This community is so nice, friendly and supportive. We got so much free food from Natalie and Kacie over the last few days. We got this unique chance to experience the community and Valley," the friends said.

Higher up the mountain, Airport Bridge on Kaweah Drive was flooded on Monday night but cleared Wednesday morning for drivers.

However, Bailey Bridge on North Fork Drive was also hit pretty hard.

The road leading up to one side of the bridge is completely washed out.

Fewer people live in that area, and county officials say they are working as quickly as possible to find a temporary solution there as well.

" We do expect a lot of this work to be undone bit the incoming storms this weekend. We will be back. We will assess," explained Ross Miller, chief engineer with Tulare County Resource Management. "We will do whatever repairs are needed and try to repair to a temporary surface while we work on doing the more permanent fixes in the future."

Residents say they're thankful no one was injured and hope the next few storms don't result in as much damage.

Tulare County officials tell me they are working as quickly as possible hoping to find temporary solutions for all impacted bridges before the next storms move in.