With multiple powerful storms continuing to bear down on California, state officials have warned that rural areas are the most at risk of flooding because the levees that protect them aren’t built to the same standards as others that shield more populated cities.
These rural levees – many of which are owned and maintained by private land owners – mostly protect farmland from flooding and pose minimal risk to most homes. But failures can cause major thoroughfares to flood, as happened on New Year’s Eve when a major highway in Sacramento County flooded and one person was killed.
“When we have these kinds of systems, it’s very easy for smaller communities to get overwhelmed,” Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, said at an emergency briefing this week.
A flood watch will take effect Saturday evening and last through Wednesday across a vast swath of the valley from Redding down to Modesto, said Scott Rowe, lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sacramento. That means flood conditions are possible and people should be on alert.