MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke appealed to residents in evacuation areas to “please help us by helping yourself” in a video message recorded Tuesday morning.
Sheriff Warnke had already issued an evacuation order for the entire town of Planada the same morning and deputies have been tasked with going door to door to help residents evacuate. The sheriff told residents that they are going to help them to safety, but also warned those that are thinking of staying behind.
“Do you think that we are going to be rolling around in the mud if you don’t want to get out of your house? No. But understand that if you don’t get out of your house, the resources coming to get you might be slim because we got them dedicated to folks coming out,” said Warnke. “So if you stay back and then all of a sudden you need help it may not be available, so when I ask you to get out please do so, it’s not because we are trying to do anything other than keep you safe.”
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office took to social media to implore drivers not to drive through flooded roadways or pass set-up barricades. Sheriff Warnke said that even some of the big three-quarter-ton trucks couldn’t pull through some of the areas as the water reached their bed line. Despite the warnings and signs, county officials have seen some drivers trying to be “cute.”
“We’ve had people absolutely disregarding the barricades. Folks, that is for your safety. We had someone a little bit ago in Planada come across the railroad tracks thinking they were going to be cute and got into the water. Next thing you know they became bobbers. Their cars are now ruined. We have hundred-plus cars in Planada that are ruined through natural causes, by them sitting in the yard where the water came up. Or numbskulls running barricades and thinking they should be able to go through there,” said Warnke.
Sheriff Warnke says that this situation is about the safety of residents, and to not look at it as a game or something fun as they are doing everything they can to get people out whose lives are at risk.
Residents in Merced are asked to avoid travelling unless it is absolutely necessary as major flooding is occurring along local roads and highways.