Rancher talks about flood | RecordCourier.com
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Rancher talks about flood

Andy Bourelle

In the last days of 1996, Carson Valley residents and officials realized a flood was coming.

Long-time Valley rancher Arnold Settelmeyer drew upon past experiences of living through floods – most specifically the one it 1955, which could arguably rival 1997’s flood in the damage it did – to prepare for the event.

Settelmeyer said he was able to move livestock and equipment, and be as prepared as possible for the imminent waters.

“My experience definitely helped,” Settelmeyer said. “Every flood’s a little bit different, but I kind of knew what to expect.”

His past experience also has given him some knowledge of something else – flood repair.

“(The repairs) have been slow. There’s several layers of government to work through,” he said. “It’s terribly frustrating. I’ve lived through a number of floods, where the repairs were done much more efficiently, with not so many layers of government to go through. I’m glad we’re getting any help at all, though.”

Settelmeyer had about 150 acres of land under water last January, but having water over land is not what caused damage to his property. The river ripped a new channel during the flood, destroying about nine acres of Settelmeyer’s land – and all the crops on it.

Settelmeyer, with help from the Army Corps of Engineers, has had the river rerouted back to its previous channel early in 1997, but federal work still needs to be done to the part of the river running through his land. In fact, much of the river’s major repairs still need to be done.

“I think they’re just putting in Band-aids,” Settelmeyer said. “So far, they haven’t looked at the whole system. Every time you repair a levee, you push the problem onto another place on the river. You don’t eliminate it.”

Although already well-experienced with floods, Settelmeyer said he learned from the flood of 1997, and he hopes the community has also.

“I’m learning all the time,” Settelmeyer said. “I think it’s very apparent we need to maintain and manage the Carson River. We know there will be high water again sometime in the future. The whole system needs to be looked at.”

Settelmeyer said he hopes the county and community will think more about possible floods regarding building and growth. Subdivisions such as the Ranchos and Riverview Mobile Home Park were hit hard by the flood. New developments, if planned properly, should not have to face that kind of disaster.

“We have to live with (the fact that current subdivisions were flooded), but we don’t have to build further subdivisions where life and property can be in danger,” he said.

Whatever the future holds for flood relief and repair, Settelmeyer said, because of the unfinished repairs, the Valley is particularly vulnerable to floods right now.

“My personal opinion is that we are in worse shape for a flood than we were in ’97,” he said.