Monday, November 21, 2005

Scary Flood Map

This article from the Bee on Friday about what Sacramento would look like after a 500 year flood, shows a huge lake covering all of the city of Sacramento with the American River becoming an inlet and much of the Parkway submerged.

Scary is certainly the right word to describe it.

Scary flood map sparks a call for state assistance
By Matt Weiser -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Friday, November 18, 2005

Sacramento Valley politicians on Thursday called for a statewide effort to protect the region from flooding, citing its strategic importance to the California economy.

But board members of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments stopped short of discussing growth controls that would keep more homes from being built in areas likely to flood.

The discussion was triggered in large part by an eye-popping map developed by the SACOG staff that illustrates a 500-year flood event in the six-county region. The term refers to a massive storm with a one in 500 chance of occurring in any year. The results would be devastating: a solid carpet of floodwater stretching up to 20 miles wide between the Sutter Buttes in the north and Highway 12 in the south.

"I think a storm like this is coming. It just hasn't hit us yet," said Les Harder, acting deputy director of the state Department of Water Resources, who briefed the board on potential flood damages.

Harder said most of the Valley's levees were built to protect farms and offer as little as 50-year protection. This is "simply inadequate" for the urbanization now taking place, he said.

On the 500-year map, multiple levee breaks would put many communities and highways under water. In some places, that water would be only inches deep. But the map brought home the consequences of inaction for the gathered city and county leaders, most of whom depend to some degree on aging, unstable levees.

"If there's any validity to this map, can we responsibly not treat it as a planning document?" said Linda Budge, Rancho Cordova city councilwoman. "We have the unfortunate advantage of having seen what happens (in New Orleans) when you don't have a plan. We need to figure out what to do about it."

For the rest of the story: