The situation involving the integrity of the San Joaquin River levees and the impacts that is creating as of 12:01 a.m. this morning
WHAT HAPPENED: There was a levee breach developing south of Manteca on a San Joaquin River levee two miles west of Airport Way and Perrin Road around 6 p.m. Monday. The breach was halted at 8:45 p.m. Monday by emergency actions of the McMullen Reclamation District, San Joaquin County, and the Department of Water Resources. They are now moving in equipment and material to stabilize the situation.
RURAL EVACUATION: An evacuation order was issued that reads, “Woodward Avenue on the north — Union Road on the East, to Avenue D, and then Airport Way” to the river. It impacts farms and rural homes.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IMPACTED: There are just over 500 residents in the impacted area.
CITY OF MANTECA RESIDENTS NOT INCLUDED: Manteca Police clarified that the evacuation order does not include any city residents. The Office of Emergency Services drew the order to the closest readily identifiable boundary.
EVACUATION CANVAS: Authorities staging at the command center on South Union Road at the Lathrop Manteca Fire station were preparing at 10 p.m. Monday to go door-to-door notifying residents of the order. Those that opt to stay were having their contact numbers taken. Those who leave are not being allowed back into the area until the evacuation notice is lifted.
NILE GARDEN SCHOOL CLOSED: Nile Garden School is closed while the evacuation order is in place. Floodwaters in the 1997 levee break reached the playground. The closure of Nile Garden School impacts a number of students that don’t live in the evacuation area but are bused to the school from the neighborhoods in the southern part of the City of Manteca.
uNO ACCESS TO AREA: Roads leading into the evacuated area are barricaded and no access will be allowed until further notice.
EVACUATION SHELTER: The Red Cross has established an evacuation shelter at the Lathrop Community Center, 15552 Fifth Street in Lathrop.
uANIMAL SHELTER: The Manteca Animal Shelter can hold small pets for evacuees. It is at 115 E. Wetmore St. off South Main Street in Manteca.
ELECTRICAL SERVICE: Authorities indicated there will cut power to areas in the greatest danger that are close to levees to avoid having live wires in the water should the levee break.
WHAT’S NEXT: The levees south of Manteca have failed 11 times since 1927. The last big failure was in 1997 when 70 square miles were flooded under similar conditions. The river at Vernalis is at the danger stage already. Increased releases from the Don Pedro Reservoir into the Tuolumne River that started tumbling down the emergency spillway at 3 p.m. Monday is expected to flow into the San Joaquin River today sometime between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. It essentially will significantly raise water and increase the power of the water battering levees that are already saturated. Turlock Irrigation District, operater of Don Pedro that travelers cross using Highway 120 to reach Yosemite, has warned the pumped up releases from the emergency spillway may continue for four days.
DANGER TO LATHROP & WESTON RANCH: Eight years ago the Reclamation District 17 were improved. Historically, they have been in much better shape than the levees in the 2606, McMullen and River Junction reclamation districts south of Manteca that brace against the runoff from the San Joaquin River basin coming altogether at the confluence of the Stanislaus River into what some has called “the stem of the champagne glass” before splitting into the Od River and New River west of Mossdale Crossing. RD17 crews are keeping a close watch on the levees.
CHANCES OF THE CITY OF MANTECA FLOODING: Should levee breaches occur that can’t be contained, floodwaters wouldn’t reach homes in Manteca due to the dry levee that extends westward from a point just west of Airport Way and south of Woodward Avenue. In 1997 that levee was considered “touch and go” in terms of possibly failing for 24 hours prompting the plugging of the McKinley Avenue underpass of the 120 Bypass with dirt as a precaution. There are now homes in the areas including Oakwood Shores and homes within the City of Manteca straddling Airport Way south of the 120 Bypass. Should that dry levee be overwhelmed, authorities may have to revisit plugging McKinley Avenue to contain floodwaters if it gets to that point. At any rate, hydrology shows most of the vulnerable area in Manteca would have a maximum threat of three feet or less of water. It is unclear how much water Oakwood Shores would have to deal with in such a scenario.
DANGER TO RIVER ISLANDS AT LATHROP: The planned community is protected by 300-foot wide super levees that are about as bullet proof as you can get.