Waterways like the Calaveras River and Bear Creek have risen to levels not seen in years
STOCKTON, Calif. — Gary Sanchez has witnessed the normally tranquil Bear Creek suddenly rising behind his North Stockton home.
“It’s getting high, but I’ve seen it a little bit higher than that so I’m concerned about it. But the levees are strong, they’ve done a lot of work on them,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez’s family has had their home here since 1992. He said in 1997 Bear Creek got much higher.
In recent days, the normally calm Calaveras River under Pacific Avenue has also risen to levels not seen in years thanks to a historic series of atmospheric river storms.
Still, many homeowners said they weren’t concerned or even had bothered to look at waterways directly behind their homes.
Arie Hope lives along the Calaveras in the city’s Country Club neighborhood. He has confidence the levees will hold, but still keeps an eye out.
“Every time I drive in, I kind of check it, but like I said, I’ve seen it several feet higher,” said Hope.
Hope’s neighbor, James Campbell, isn’t too worried either.
“No big concern. It never rises to where I think it is going to flood,” said Campbell.
However, are county officials concerned?
“With the amount of waterways which run through our community, we always have some level of concern,” said Tiffany Heyer, deputy director of general services for the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services.
Heyer said the Army Corps of Engineers initiated the levee projects, but it’s the county public works department that maintains them now in Stockton.
“We have professionals that are out monitoring those waterways 24/7. Our office along with many others in the county, in the region, in the state are watching the waterflows that are going into those waterways,” said Heyer.
So far, the county says there are no breaches in the 135 miles of levees that traverse San Joaquin County.
Homeowners like Sanchez believe flooding along Bear Creek is a long shot.
“It could, but probably not in our lifetime,” said Sanchez.
Still, San Joaquin County officials want residents to keep an eye on the waterways, and they say be prepared in case of emergency by knowing your way out and by having a “go bag.”
There is a 24/7 number to call public works if necessary. It’s 209-468-3074.
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