Merced County Times Newspaper
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Highway 59 and W North Bear Creek Drive. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANIEL HERNANDEZ

Relentless Rain Wreaks Havoc On Residents

• Planada forced to evacuate • Bear Creek at critical mass

 

STORY UPDATE: JAN 10 / 7 P.M.

Evacuation Orders are still in effect for the
following streets:

• W. North Bear Creek Drive
• La Cresenta Ave
• La Palma Ave
• La Mirada Drive
• Corona Court
• Mariette Ave
• Portola Way
• Madrid Ave
• StoneyBrook Ave
• Dry Creekside Drive
• Silver Creek Court
• Springfield Court
• Brookside Drive
• Shadowbrook Drive
• Driftwood Drive
• Crystal Springs Ave
• 2500 N. Hwy 59
• Cooper Ave from Ashby Road to HWY 59

To view a map, visit https://www.app.perimeterplatform.com

Conditions remain unsafe in these areas. City police, fire and public works crew continue
to assess the areas and will provide updates as conditions change.
An Evacuation Center is open at the Merced County Fairgrounds at 900 Martin Luther King Jr.
Way. Merced County has activated a Call Center for shelters and resources at 209-385-7563.

 

Homes threatened in Merced area, Planada 

Merced-area waterways, roads and drainage systems buckled under the pressure of the atmospheric river pummeling California this week. Rising floodwaters forced the evacuation of the entire town of Planada, areas around Le Grand, and neighborhoods along Bear Creek in Merced. Other evacuation warnings targeted South Gustine and North Santa Nella.

Some residents of Planada — with a population of about 4,000 people — joined the hundreds of evacuees who sought shelter at an emergency center set up inside the Merced County Fairgrounds. Those who remained in town were reportedly without power.

In Central Merced, parts of West Bear Creek, between M and 16th streets, flooded over the banks in the early hours of Tuesday. The fast-moving water surged above the McKee Bridge flood stage of 23 feet to reach a record 26.2 feet — the most flooding in this stretch of Bear Creek since recording began in 1956.

Meanwhile, road closures were announced across the county, and schools were closed in several regional districts — including in and around Merced.

Merced experienced a total of 2.32 inches of rain in a four-day period, and 4.41 inches since Jan. 1.

But the worst part of all: It’s not over yet.

More punishing rain showers are expected to return on Friday, all day, as well as Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

“Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding,” a National Weather Service flood warning stated. “Caution is urged when walking near river banks.”

That said, all eyes continue to be focused on Bear Creek in Merced.

While water levels on Bear Creek were expected to decrease somewhat on Wednesday, more rain on Friday has the potential to push Bear Creek higher once again.

Prior to the recent severe storm system, the Bear Creek level in Merced has only made its way past the 20-foot mark a handful of times — reaching 21.72 feet in 2018, 22.90 feet in 1956, and a high point of 24.65 feet in 2006

As a means of reference, at the 16-foot mark is when the Bear Creek Bike Path under the G Street Bridge floods with storm drains beginning to back up and street flooding occurring mainly north of Bear Creek Drive, and east of M Street at 17 feet.

At 23 feet, the Beachwood subdivision and the trailer park along the southern end of Bear Creek Drive would be expected to be flooded, in addition to Applegate Park on the south side of Bear Creek Drive.

Want To Help?

Local residents who are interested in providing help or donations to those affected by the flooding can call the United Way at (209) 383-4242 or email Janet Kasper at [email protected].

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