The City of Corcoran and the Cross Creek Flood Control District are taking seriously the current El Nino weather pattern, emphasizing an abundance of preparation should the pattern shift slightly to the south and perhaps bring unprecedented late-winter rains to this region.
During last week’s council meeting, the city joined the district in encouraging local residents to invest in flood insurance in addition to other precautionary steps. The city is already providing free sandbags to residents concerned with local flooding during and after storms come through this area.
Residents can pick up sandbags at the city corporation yard and will have to bring their own shovels. Both bags and sand are provided; residents need to fill and haul the sandbags themselves.
It does not appear at this time that the City of Corcoran faces a large flood event. Rainfall to date has reached 4.79 inches, just about average. Corcoran’s average rainfall for a year usually reaches just at seven inches, a mark that would require two more inches of rainfall over the next two months. It does appear the community is on pace to reach that total following four years of extreme drought.
The continued drought has also left local reservoirs depleted. Pine Flat Dam on the Kings River can hold as much as a million acre feet of water, but now sits well below 200,000 acre feet of water in storage. The same holds true for percentages in and along the Kaweah and Tule rivers watersheds.
The flood control district was established in 1982, when a major Tulare Lake flood resulted in 880,000 acre-feet of water flooding in from upstream. Another million acre-feet of water was diverted.
At that time, the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers bolstered the Cross Creek levee to a height of 195.5 feet to protect the community. The district was formed to provide continued repair and maintenance to the levee, which loops from north of Corcoran to south of the community, near Quebec and 4th Ave.
In preparation of the expected wet winter, the flood control district has completed major improvements to the Cross Creek levee. Unfortunately, ground subsidence is a major issue in this area, as it is all over the San Joaquin Valley.
Cross Creek Flood Control District discovered when it conducted its own survey that subsidence had left the levee elevation at 186 feet above sea level, a drop of almost 10 feet. The new work has once again put the levee at 190 feet. With other area subsidence, the district is confident the community will be well-protected, barring some catastrophic failure of the levee.
As long as the El Nino pattern persists, it has been recommended that residents across the state obtain flood insurance. Both state and federal emergency management services agree. Helpful websites include:
Residents can also contact their local insurance agent.