Serious winter flooding caused devastation in the Central Valley. January and February's high flows along the Cosumnes, Mokelumne and Sacramento rivers caused erosion on levees, millions in damages.
Many of these rural towns want to know who is fitting the bill now that the water levels are lower. One of the larger farms in South Elk Grove, back up against the Cosumnes River is Kautz Farms. Tim Chappell manages the vineyard on the property and the private levee.
Along the the levee you can see erosion and the massive risk posed after the floods.
“Nobody want erosion,” Chappell said as he drove down the levee.
He showed us a photo of a large sink hole right in the middle of his levee now it is filled up.
“The reclamation district came in and did the job,” Chappell said.
Because this private levee is under a reclamation district, which is like an H.O.A. for levees, property owners pay a due and the district helps maintain it. This small levee repair cost Chappell's district, Reclamation 800, over $100,000. A large amount of money and the districts have ran out.
The Reclamation 800 President, Brian Takemori and civil engineer, Patrick Irvin met at the levee site.
"Usually we only get a high water and flood stage event once or twice a year," Takemori said, "This was 6 times in two-months that’s why we have so much damage, and we need to get it fixed.”
He said his district estimates 10-14 million in damages to levees after the winter floods and they cannot fix anymore levees.
"We are really trying to get funding first,” Takemori said.
They said it is an easy fix but not a cheap one. This district and many others in the nearby area are calling on a hero -- FEMA. They are hoping the agency will step in and help with damages if not they will have to pay out of pocket with a loan. Currently they are negotiating.
We wanted to make sure FEMA was the only option so we made an appointment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Civil engineer Brigid Briskin works in the Sacramento area for various flood and levee projects. We asked her if the agency was coming to the rescue for all of the Central Valley levees.
“As long as they meet our criteria, initial requirements and pass inspection,” Briskin said.
But they would have had to be enrolled in the Corps program prior to the flood.
“That’s the only way they have access to our help,” she added.
Briskin did say if these levee property owners were able to fix their levees and apply to the Rehabilitation Program the Corps would consider them if they passed inspection, which could help in the future.