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FIGHT AGAINST RIVER GOES ON

Evacuation order lifted for areas of rural south Manteca

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FIGHT AGAINST RIVER GOES ON

The structural cross supports at the Airport Way bridge over the San Joaquin River were almost touching the water Thursday afternoon.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin/


POSTED February 24, 2017 12:48 a.m.

The evacuation order for the areas south of Woodward Avenue and west of S. Airport Way has been lifted.
According to the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, homeowners residing in those areas are now allowed to return home but are encouraged to remain ready to evacuate in the event that the situation changes.
Road closures will still remain in effect for Perrin Road, McMullin Road, Mortensen Road and Airport Court – all of which provide access to the San Joaquin River and are being used in the fight to prevent extensive flooding from damaging homes and properties south of the Highway 120 Bypass.
But that doesn’t mean that the threat of flooding is any less real.
On Thursday, crews from the California Conservation Corps spent the day sandbagging boils in the area that were moving material through the levee into low-lying fields on the opposite side. Seepage in some areas remains a concern, and while the atmospheric river fronts that brought torrential rain and snow to the area over the course of the last month are believed to be in the rear-view mirror, fear over the amount of water saturating levees beyond their capacity remains strong among flood fighters and farmers who are keeping a close on the San Joaquin River.
Also on Thursday, crews began the process of removing some of the metal barriers preventing access to the levee near River Junction by the confluence of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers preparation for material trucks that will dump rock at the base of the dry side of the levee to provide additional stability as the San Joaquin River continues to rise.
In some areas, the low-lying fields on the opposite side of the water is as much as 15 to 20 feet below the water level, and in places like River Junction, the seepage has turned those fields into inland lakes – giving the appearance that floodwaters have already ravaged the area.
And the threat will likely remain for at least the next week.
According to the National Weather Service’s California Nevada River Forecasting Service, the San Joaquin River at Vernalis – which has been in the “danger” stage since the water being released from the Don Pedro spillway arrived late Wednesday night – is projected to remain at roughly 31 feet through the end of the weekend.
While the high water putting stress on water-logged levees is one of the factors keeping landowners and levee maintenance districts up at night, the extent to which seepage has started to show early during the high-water event is also troubling to some.
According to Michael Cardoza, the amount of seepage water appearing in fields is not necessarily uncommon given how high the river is, but how quickly it appeared is – speeding up the time that farmers usually have to respond to the natural phenomenon.
And when the seepage comes, so do the boils.
As water passes through from the river to the low-lying areas on the other side, as long as it is clear when it bubbles up to the surface it’s only monitored. But when the water bubbling up is dark in color, that means that it is passing material through the levee, and possibly jeopardizing the integrity from the inside – something that requires the boil to either be neutralized by sandbagging around it to equal out the pressure, or plugging the boil to attempt to prevent further destabilization.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

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