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Merced weathers the storm, but there's a flood watch

Mike Conway

Post Date:01/09/2017

City weathers the storm, but there's still a flood watch

The City of Merced weathered the weekend storm with minor street flooding as the streams running through town stayed within their banks. However, the National Weather Service has a flood watch for Merced through 4 p.m. Wednesday and predicts the City could receive more than an inch of rain by then.

The storm brought 2.27 inches of rain in three days and Bear Creek crested at 18.5 feet, well below the 23-foot flood stage. The flood of April 4, 2006 saw Bear Creek reach 24.65 feet.

'Fortunately, Bear Creek didn't crest,' said Public Works Director Ken Elwin. 'If that had happened it would have been a whole different story. We were preparing for the worst but it didn't happen. Hallelujah.'

Elwin said crews didn't need to use the 1,200 sandbags that were filled in case of an emergency.

There were some minor storm-related issues:

  • A section of McCombs Drive flooded when a valve was shut because the creek was too high. A City vacuum truck was sent in to clear the water until the creek level dropped enough to reopen the valve.

  • There was a small amount of flooding at Shadowbrook and Julie Drives due to a valve that was shut because of the high creek levels. A submersible pump was set up to deal with the water there.

  • Childs Avenue and Highway 59 flooded several times during the storm. Crews closed it off and pumps were set up to drain the water.

'Our Public Works crews deserve a big thanks for the hard work they did over the weekend keeping the drains clear and the roads open,' said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. 'They were out in the middle of the night when it was pouring rain checking valves and storm drains to make sure the water didn't back up and create major flooding.

'We also owe a debt of gratitude to our police and firefighters who were out making sure the streets were safe and reporting on any problems they spotted during the bad weather,' Murphy said.

'We asked the public for their help this weekend. We asked them to stay home and stay safe and they listened,' said Assistant City manager Stephanie Dietz. 'The calls for service for both police and fire were way down over the weekend. And, luckily, there were only a few minor fender-benders.

'There's a flood watch for Merced until Wednesday afternoon,' Dietz said, 'So we are asking people to continue to be careful when they go to work and school.'

More than 2,000 sandbags were handed out to people starting on Thursday when the storm starting becoming big news, said Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson. The number is deceptive because many people came in earlier in the year for sandbags when other rain events came through.

There are still 30,000 sandbags ready for people if needed. People can get sandbags at the main station, Fire Station 51, 99 E. 16th St. anytime.  Sand is available at 10 locations throughout the City.

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