Crews monitor high flow rates on Kaweah River

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Linda Lewis can remember a time when water levels rose dangerously close to her home on the middle fork of the Kaweah River.

On Tuesday night, she thinks it only covered a couple of the steps that connect her home to the riverbank.

But the river is still roaring, and flooding is always a concern.

"The plan is: get the dog, get in the Jeep, and drive to the top of the road," Lewis said. "Because I don't believe it'll ever come that high."

All of the Tulare County Fire Department's stations are fully staffed, and they've called in two strike teams to help respond to storm-related calls.

They're keeping a close eye on conditions in Three Rivers, where they've seen a spike in the flow rate on the Kaweah River.

"The wind and the water combined has created a higher call volume for us in the last few days," said Tulare County Fire Captain Joe Rosa.

One of the calls they received Wednesday was from Three Rivers' only school.

30,000 gallons of water filled an area beneath its portable classrooms.

So fire crews pumped it all out, letting it flow to the nearest drain.

In case they need to rescue someone later, firefighters also spent the day keeping a count of people who live in homes near flooded roads.

Captain Joe Rosa cautions drivers to think twice.

"If there's water crossing a roadway at a bridge, don't drive through it," Rosa said. "If there's water in the roadway, don't drive through it. Water that's moving at a very low rate of speed can pick up an average sized vehicle and move it."

The Kaweah River is a powerful force, so locals like Linda Lewis say the best thing to do is respect it.

"Be mindful of what's going on and be prepared if you need to go somewhere else," she said.
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