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Flo gave Manteca more than 15 minutes of fame
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The 1997 New Year’s floods was the worst disaster to hit the decade of the 1990s. It put Manteca in the national and international news.

But it was a Holstein stranded for several days on top of a floating trailer in Weatherbee Lake which supplied the dramatic element that kept the country and the world riveted to the deluge happening in this small  corner of the globe.

I believe it was CNN which dubbed the floating bovine, “Flo the Cow.”

Everybody was interested to know how Flo was going to survive, who was going to feed her, and when and how she was going to be rescued.

Flo the Cow belonged to Manteca dairyman Melvin Luiz. It was one of the cows that he kept at the property in the Wetherbee Lake that he owned at the time and used as grazing land for some of his dairy cattle. The open field was quickly inundated with water, and that’s how Flo the Cow ended up at Waltham Slough by The Islander trailer park on Williamson Road just past the now-defunct Oakwood Lake Resort at the western end of Woodward Avenue. Flo the Cow was one of the lucky ones. Luiz lost many of his cows that were kept at his property near the San Joaquin River. Many of the cows that were there drowned, their mud-caked bodies scattered everywhere days after the flood waters receded.

The Luiz Dairy was, and still is, located at the southeast corner of Woodward and Oleander avenues between South Airport Way and South Union Road.

Flo the Cow survived by being fed hay that was transported by boat to her temporary floating trailer island until she was rescued.

After the rescue, Flo was taken to the Luiz Dairy on Woodward Avenue where it was fed and cared for.

Sadly, Flo the Cow met a tragic end at the dairy. While she survived several days floating in the murky flood waters, nobody could protect her from someone with evil intentions. Months after surviving the devastating New Year’s floods, Flo the Cow was discovered one morning dead in the enclosed dairy field. Someone the night before had sent an arrow through her body, killing her in the process.

The nocturnal William Tell was never caught. Although there were rumors floating around – no pun intended – as to the possible identity of the perpetrator, that crime incident remains a mystery to this day.