Flood guide critical to weekend response | RecordCourier.com

Flood guide critical to weekend response

by Amy Alonzo
An excavator prepares to pluck large debris from the Carson River on the Cradlebaugh Bridge Monday afternoon.
Brad Coman |

The recently created flood response guide was critical in helping the East Fork Fire Protection District respond to this week’s extreme weather events, Chief Tod Carlini said.

The guide helped the district “put the right people in the right spots,” he said. “It really helped us be more prepared than we’ve traditionally been prepared.”

The flood response guide was developed in 2016 to pinpoint major problem areas in the district as the result of flooding. The guide combines the historical knowledge of area ranchers with flood prevention technology, Carlini said.

Last weekend’s flood, followed by this week’s continued rain and snow, is the first time the guide has been used for a major event, he said.

“You have two sources of information here — historical knowledge and technology that can model events,” he said. “To compare modeling that’s more scientific with what’s more historical and anecdotal and see that they’re pretty close … I thought that was pretty interesting.”

“Floods are very difficult to deal with. They’re probably even more difficult than a fire,” he added. “You try to stay ahead of it, but there’s so many intangibles with flooding.”

One thing the flood response guide didn’t prepare Carlini and the East Fork Fire Protection District for was an early Monday morning structure fire that seriously damaged a Gardnerville house.

The fire was “certainly the least expected” event the district responded to in the past week, he said. Crews couldn’t respond with proper equipment and had to walk a half-mile up a flooded road to get to the structure. Crews used a floating pump in the homeowner’s swimming pool for water and responded with wildfire brush engines rather than typical structure engines.

The fire was an outlier though, he said. Of the hundreds of events responders dealt with, the majority were sandbag assists.

The district has performed an extensive damage assessment, he said. The majority of reported flood damage affected yards, landscaping, culverts and road crossings, he said.

Carlini has seen flooding his whole life. He remembers standing near a bridge in Yerington with his dad, who served as a volunteer firefighter, during the 1964 flood watching a piece of heavy machinery pluck debris from the gushing Walker River.

The events of the past week don’t compare to the flood of 1997, he said, but he thinks they are comparable to what the area saw in 2005.

Predictions of yet another atmospheric river coming through the area next week could continue to affect the Carson Valley, he said.

“We’re still in the event basically,” he said. “The ground is fairly well saturated.”