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The Connection

The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

Is Elk Grove ready for another El Niño?

Seth Henderson
Strawberry Creek, located along the northern border of Cosumnes River College, is maintained by local agencies, but still susceptible to localized flooding, according to Sacramento County. In January of 2023, Elk Grove experienced historical flooding which caused death, fear and evacuation, according to the SacBee.

According to The Sacramento Bee, local regions are facing a 75% to 85% chance of strong storms this winter due to a historically strong El Niño declared in May by the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

El Niño and its counterpart La Niña are climate patterns that occur when sea surface temperatures change from their norm near the Pacific Ocean’s equator, the NWSCPC said on its website.

California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer of the Valley Division Margarito Meza said it’s important for drivers to be prepared in the event they find themselves in flooded or hazardous conditions. He said to be mindful of closed roads and standing water on the roadway, which could immobilize vehicles and leave drivers stranded. 

“It’s important that we have some sort of basic first-aid kit, some reflectors in the event we are stuck out there,” Meza said. “It’s always super important as well to have your phone charged or keep some sort of power source to keep your phone charged.”

Public Information Manager for Sacramento County Matt Robinson said El Niño or La Niña are not the biggest threats to the Sacramento area, but rather the average storms and how they might affect our local creeks and streams. He said Cosumnes River College is located near multiple creeks such as Strawberry Creek, along the north boundary of CRC and Laguna Creek, which runs below the south boundary of the CRC campus and both are susceptible to localized flooding.

In January of 2023, Elk Grove experienced historical flooding which caused death, fear and evacuation, according to the SacBee. Power lines fell. Tree debris and garbage flowed through city streets and water channels as parts of Highway 99 flooded. County officials issued a state of emergency, according to the article, but how will this season be different?

The Connection reached out to the Sacramento County Department of Water Resources and spoke to Drainage Superintendent Fernando Bugarin. With the support of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the Sacramento County Department of Human Services, Bugarin said workers are able to remove trash, litter and shopping carts from the homeless encampments in or near the waterways and give the homeless assistance as needed. 

“Our maintenance schedules are huge,” Bugarin said. “We work year round, these cleaning schedules, mowing, doing repairs, erosion controls, tree removals, trees fall down, a little bit of herbicide application to kill some of the weeds in the canals and above on the over-banks.”

Bugarin said the county has worked with city agencies, law enforcement and others to ensure the maintenance of canals and other drain systems are prepared for the rainy season. He said television inspections (TVI) are conducted using underground cameras to inspect the conditions of systems below the surface.

The inspections look for erosion, root-bound pipes, separation or anything that intrudes the pipe system, Bugarin said. A work order is created and repairs are then scheduled.

Bugarin said the county maintains Sacramento’s natural canals, creeks and concrete-lined channels. He said this system of water channels makes its way through the county, into the city and back out to the county before dumping into the Sacramento or American River.

“We went and made sure that those areas are mowed, that the debris is out of there,” Bugarin said. “There’s a lot of homeless encampments in there right now.”

Deputy Public Works Director for the City of Elk Grove Sean Gallagher said different agencies work together on repairs, but the city is prepared for storm events obstructing traffic and roadways.

“The police department is working 24/7 during storm events and Emergency Operations is working 24/7 as well, so we would adjust and manage whatever is thrown our way as it comes,” Gallagher said. 

Meza said to remain as calm as possible if drivers experience flooding and to call 911 or other assistance. He said for drivers to be cautious during the first few rains, not become over confident and reduce speeds when the roads are wet.

“Here in California, the leading cause of crashes continues to be speed and especially when the weather isn’t ideal, these accidents continue to happen because our drivers are driving past the posted speed limit,” Meza said.

Bugarin said the county relies heavily on and appreciates the public’s help reporting flooded streets or intersections, by calling them into the 311 Service Center of Sacramento County.

“The sooner you call it in, the sooner we can address it,” Bugarin said. “It doesn’t matter what time of day or night because we have a stand-by crew.”

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About the Contributor
Seth Henderson
Seth Henderson, Editor in Chief
Seth Henderson is the Editor-in-Chief for The Connection. He decided to join the Connection because he wants to become a reporter and broadcaster, hoping to work in Las Vegas for the Raiders and the NFL. He was grew up in the Bay Area and is passionate about journalism, music and sports.

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