An aerial view of Maxwell on Feb. 18, 2017.

With the first big storm of the season and the Nov. 15 start of flood season behind us, the Sun-Herald spoke to some local officials to see how things are looking during this years rainy season. 

Lewis Bair, general manager of the Sacramento River West Side Levee District, said the levees in the area are in the best shape they have ever been, thanks to over $40 million in recent repairs throughout the district that were completed by the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Some of the worst spots are now in the best shape they have ever been in,” said Bair. “The Corps saw some areas of concern so they came in and made the improvements.”

Bair said several county agencies, including the local Reclamation Districts, the Sheriff’s office and local fire agencies, have also been working closely to coordinate emergency preparedness and response efforts. This agencies have formed a Regional Flood Planning Group to facilitate this effort.

“That is something we did not have five years ago,” said Bair. “We are much more coordinated now and each agency has an emergency plan that coordinates with everyone else.” 

According to Bair, these agencies have also done extensive preparedness training and planning to designate which agency will handle what and when should an emergency situation arise. 

Bair also said these agencies have been stock piling emergency supplies so they are prepared in the event of flooding or other emergencies. 

“We are ready to have more resources available should we need them,” said Bair. 

Janice Bell, Emergency Services technician for the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office, said many areas of the county flood nearly each year causing road closures, and at times, evacuations of individual residences.

Bell said one repetitive flood threat is slow-rising surface waters in low-lying areas exacerbated by creek and stream overtopping from excessive drainage from areas to the north added to our runoff, with large quantitative amounts of rainfall increasing the surface water in times when the ground is already saturated and creeks and streams are full.

“This area of the valley is part of the Colusa Basin Drain system, so our topography is doing what it naturally would do and conveys large amounts of water,” said Bell. “All Local Maintaining Agencies remain diligent in mitigating any areas of concern all year long.”

According to Bell, if an evacuation were called for by the Department of Water Resources or by local government, community evacuation routes are scenario-driven. Road Closure information is available on the County of Colusa webpage under Public Works, and highway closures can be searched on CalTrans’ website.

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