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Flood Control official: San Joaquin River flooding could cause billions in damage, hundreds of deaths in next 50 years

The San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency has four projects planned to help address flooding from the San Joaquin River.

STOCKTON, Calif. — Flooding on the nearly 300-mile-long arterial San Joaquin River could cause $1.5 billion in damages and at least 160 deaths per heavy storm in the next 50 years, according to a presentation by Chris Elias, executive director of the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency.

Elias made the presentation to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors during their Tuesday meeting as another atmospheric river storm brought heavy rain and damaging winds to California.

The cities of Stockton, Manteca and Lathrop have the lowest level of flood protection when compared to other major river cities in the U.S., Elias said in his presentation.

If mitigation measures aren't put into place now, the San Joaquin River could endure six times the annual flow that it currently experiences.

“Yes, it historically floods here, but the flood events are now closer together and becoming more powerful due to climate change conditions,” said Elias. “In fact, a recent UCLA study points to likely “megaflood” in next 50 years which would completely inundate communities in the San Joaquin region.”

MORE: Megaflood: California’s disaster in waiting | Go in-depth with our 4-part series

During the same meeting, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved an emergency declaration due to damage caused by recent storms.

The San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency has four projects currently underway to address flooding risks and improve levees along the San Joaquin River.

The projects focus on the Smith Canal near Stockton, the Lower San Joaquin River near San Joaquin General Hospital and the Paradise Cut.

Watch more from ABC10: California Storm Update 5 p.m. | Evacuation warning activated for Modesto residents

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