In 2005 the world was aghast by the images seen on television and newspapers of the mass destruction caused to human life and the city of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.
A recent report reveals that State authorities are bolstering levees around Sacramento to prevent it from experiencing Katrina-like effects during a flood. They also hope that severe storms don’t hit the capital city before the completion of projects planned to end by 2012.
With the right combination of bad weather conditions, officials from the Department of Water Resources predict that the American River’s 18,000-square-mile watershed, along with the Sacramento River’s 23,000 square miles in Northern California, could flood the capital city under 20 feet of water, cause $25 billion worth of damage, and devastate homes in Sacramento-area communities.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, flooding from the rivers would also leave “500 dead, 102 square miles flooded, and 300,000 people uprooted, an international airport and state agencies under water, and years of recovery.”
So what is the State doing to prevent Sacramento from becoming another New Orleans?
The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency has been designated to work with state and federal agencies to double Sacramento’s flood protection by using pre-approved $5 billion dollars in state bond money.
Stein Buer, the agency’s executive director, is working with The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the federal Bureau of Reclamation to reinforce the Central Valley’s 1,600 miles of levees, build a spillway channel for the Folsom Dam, and buttress Natomas Basin levees.
Besides infrastructure maintenance, other signs that people are preparing for the worst are building moratoriums near flood-prone areas and higher flood insurance prices.
Environmentalists are concerned about the environmental impacts of more levee construction, homeowners are upset at another high expense, and builders are dismayed at the inability to build, but state officials assure that their plans are in the name of safety.
Because, after all, how horrible would it be if Sacramento became another Katrina? Nobody wants that.