TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Homes near Schafer Dam have been under a mandatory evacuation order since late Tuesday night.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office is fearful the Tule River could reach an even more dangerous level.
Although the sun was out Wednesday, that could spell bad news for those along the river. It means more snow melt, more water flowing into the river, and could come with more evacuations.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Jennifer Ramirez.
Ramirez has lived in Porterville her whole life and came to the bridge to see the roaring waters of the Tule River for herself.
According to Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, officials are closely monitoring the river levels.
“We quickly discovered that the evacuation notice would become necessary because of the increased water flow,” said Sheriff Boudreaux.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders for areas close to Schafer Dam late Tuesday night. The spillway had so much water, it was spilling into the Tule River from different directions, and even the Sheriff’s own family had to pack up and leave.
“My home, I had to evacuate my home. I have no electricity and I have no water,” Boudreaux said, “If you feel that it’s gonna be a danger, it’s probably going to be a danger. Use good judgment and get out of the area.”
“When we saw the water, we were already ready to go, and the sheriff coming by here, that was the icing on the cake,” said Josh Webb.
Josh Webb and his family live downstream on the Tule River. They were all packed up and ready to leave, even though they were in a warning area.
“We may or may not get hit here, but just in case. We’re ready,” Webb said.
Water from the river spilled over the riverbed and went down the road, trapping cars and people. Debris could block water flow and create even more problems.
“We have a lot of residents here who are not sleeping, I’m one of ’em,” said Justin Manning, who lives near the river.
Multiple agencies responded to the area, along with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Crews were using excavators and dump trucks to try and control the rising waters.