REEDLEY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – With just hours before the rain starts, Fresno County emergency manager Terri Mejorado said she wants residents to make their final preparations now.

She said she understands many are tired of preparing for storm after storm, but stresses this one will bring serious impacts. 

“When you start adding that much water plus the snow melt, it’s going to the path of least resistance,” Mejorado said. 

The rainfall at high elevations is likely to melt the record snowpack. Coupled with the rain on the valley floor, river levels are likely to get dangerously high. 

“We’re fully expecting the Kings River to reach its top, once it starts to spill over it could go into homes. Now’s the time to go ahead and pack everything you think you need to leave or if you want to ride it out, make sure you have the supplies in your home to get you through,” she said. 

As of Wednesday 17,000, Fresno County residents are under an evacuation warning, issued days in advance. The Sheriff’s Office spent the day flying their helicopter over the Kings River to check water levels and look for any existing damage to infrastructure. They also worked to move homeless people living along the river out of danger.

At 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, the Fresno County emergency operations center will officially activate.

At Reedley College, the Red Cross has up a shelter that can hold 200 people. It will open at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday. They have nine others on standby across the county. 

Taylor Poisall with the Red Cross of Central California said they finally closed shelters in the mountains after being operational for weeks from the ongoing snowstorms.  She wants people to know if you evacuate but don’t need to stay at the shelter, you can still come and get resources and support. 

“We’ve been taking this time in between shelters to clean them prep them restock supplies so we’re ready to respond at a moment’s notice,” Poisall said. 

County officials say now is a good time to sign up for county alerts. You can do so by clicking here.