A massive storm flooded Houston. Experts say California’s state capital could be next.Leave a Comment
- Sacramento is more vulnerable to catastrophic flooding than any other major city in the United States except New Orleans, according to federal officials, a threat created by the city’s sunken geography.
…Models show a levee failure could submerge parts of this inland metropolis [Sacramento] under as much as 20 feet of water. As Northern Californians are recovering from wildfires and sifting through homes reduced to ash, officials in the state’s capital are struggling to prevent another type of natural disaster….
…Levees and other flood defenses here and in the surrounding Central Valley have amassed up to $21 billion in needed repairs and upgrades, while Sacramento’s population has continued to grow. Just days before Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and flooded Houston, a report from the California Department of Water Resources warned that “many flood facilities” in the Central Valley “face an unacceptably high chance of failure.”…
….If a levee were to break along the American River, which empties into the Sacramento River near downtown, water would start flowing into the city.
Although floodgates could be quickly deployed to protect downtown Sacramento from a life-threatening deluge, the water would eventually seep in from other directions, covering much of the area in several feet of water, said Roger Ince, a Sacramento emergency coordinator.
The water would continue flowing south and deposit more than 20 feet of water in the Pocket neighborhood, where about 20,000 people live in one- and two-story homes….
….In a 2010 report called “Overview of the ARkStorm Scenario,” more than two dozen scientists concluded that two back-to-back storms of similar strength could slam into California and submerge 25 percent of the state underwater.
“This isn’t science fiction,” said one of the authors, Keith Porter, a research professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “It’s a very realistic scenario, and it could happen at any time.”
Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow and water resources specialist at the Public Policy Institute of California, said such projections raise serious questions about continued development in California’s flood plain, a debate that has been playing out in Sacramento’s Natomas neighborhood, where thousands of new homes are planned…