Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dear Noah, Send help. Love, Sacramento

Most of you have no cause to know this, but I live in what is referred to as the greater Sacramento area. Here in Sacramento, we have lots of rivers, creeks and floodplains. Before we humans got here and started building all the dams and levees, Sacramento would flood pretty much every year. I think it's kind of what the area was made for.

Oh. Yeah.

Sacramento. Still. Floods.

When Katrina hit down in New Orleans and, more importantly, the levee breaks and flooding that followed, Sacramento paid attention, and not for the same reasons the rest of America was paying attention. We paid attention because, frankly, New Orleans and Sacramento could practically be sister cities. With the levees and the flooding?

We've been there.

We've been there when the levee breaks and homes are flooded halfway to the roofs, and people and dogs are stranded on rooftops and it seems like you can't turn on the tv without more reports of "Hi! Look at all this water!"

Here's a snippet from a news report from yesterday:

"Sacramento is considered the urban area most vulnerable to catastrophic flooding in the nation."

And this is not news.

We know this. We've been there. We've lived through it.

I work in what is referred to as Natomas. If you look at a flood plan map, what you will see on one side of Natomas is a river and a levee. On the other side is a drainage canal. You know what that means? It means that when the flood system was built in the area, if the levee were to fail, the plan was that all the land between the levee and the drainage canal was going to be allowed to flood. At the time, this was a pretty good idea, because that would, hopefully, spare downtown and all those other places were people actually lived.

For many years, all there was in the area that is now Natomas was rice fields. Why? Because it doesn't harm rice none if it floods. Rice loves that.

Now, Natomas is in the middle of a huge building boom. There are houses and stores and restaurants going up without end. Even in this housing market slump.

Again, from the article: "North Natomas today accounts for 47 percent of the development in the city of Sacramento."

With all this construction going on, especially in light of the floods that followed Katrina and everything we learned about the very worst that could possibly happen, you would think that the city of Sacramento would have spared no effort or expense to ensure that our levees were strong and able to withstand what is referred to as the 100-year flood.

Except that you would not so much be correct in that assumption.

So much so that FEMA announced yesterday that it was placing Natomas in a flood hazard zone - effectively killing any new construction.

Apparently, city officials were "angry" and "shocked" at the designation.

From our mayor, Heather Fargo:

"I am very frustrated and very angry with the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA because Sacramento has really become the poster child of what to do right in flood protection."

Ray Kerridge, our City Manager said, "I'm totally outraged. "I don't know how the federal government can do this to this city."

The fact of the matter is that our levees would not be able to stand up to any type of significant flooding. I'm pretty sure that's been proven more than once over the last few years. If you would like to turn a blind eye and act like those levee breaks were only because of issues associated with the levee right there in that spot, then I guess that's your perogative. However, it really sucks when you're putting the lives of the people in your city at risk.

Why is everyone so pissed off that FEMA is putting its foot down? Uh, because halting construction in Natomas is going to cut off a significant revenue source, right as the city is facing a major budget crisis (much like the rest of California).

Ah, yes.

Because it always comes down to money.

Since I've ranted on long enough, let me sum things up for you.

Heather Fargo, Sacramento is not the poster child for anything regarding flooding. Maybe at the next city council meeting you can propose an initiative to rename one of those rivers "denial" because, clearly, y'all are mired in that pretty good.

I'm sorry you're about to lose all that fabulous revenue from the overbuilding in Natomas. Now get over yourselves. You shouldn't have allowed the building there in the first place, and it was only your greed that made you think it was a good idea to start putting families in a flood plain.

"Anger" is never a good emotion for the leader of a city to lay claim to, particularly when everyone can see that you're angry over losing money, and not at all interested in the potential loss of life or property that would affect your citizens.

Pull your damn head out of your ass and start taking this seriously.

It was one thing when all the Sacramento flooding coverage showed nothing but farmlands and some houses. But it's another thing altogether now that it's houses and schools and restaurants and grocery stores all crammed so close they're practically on top of each other.

Sacramento Bee, please stop posting the sob stories about the people who are going to have to give up or move in order to sufficiently fix the levees. I would much rather they have to move than they die in their sleep when the levee breaks. Also, this is Sacramento. Why did they move in next to the levee in the first place?

Also, feds? I have (and have had) a minor issue with those people who live on or next to the levee, get flooded out, and rebuild right there in the same spot with their federal assistance. You know they're just going to flood out again, right? Because we all know they're just going to flood out again. Which means they're going to rebuild again right there in the same spot with their federal assistance. Maybe y'all could look into adding some sort of language to that federal assistance dealio that says they should probably look into seeking higher ground, or own up to it on their own and get their own flood coverage and stop rebuilding on everyone else's dime.

Just a thought.

All news article references are from here. You have to register to read it, but it's free.


Anonymous said...

Yeah I bet Heather Fargo doesn't live in the "flood" zone... and every other "transplated" politian Sacramento has ever had who has said just the same...


Maybe we should MAKE them live there for 5 years... and see how their first year after a few good... HARD... Steady rains come in... Then see what they'll haev to say after THAT...

Like they say... You never know what it's like... Unless you walk a mile in anothers shoes...

Or in this case... Feel the preverbial flood gates crash down...

That's what makes me angry...

It's just a matter of time before the levees break... and the "flood" zones do what they're designed to do... and I don't mean this whole "house more people... To make more money" bullshit... I mean... Flood... and drain like it's supposed to... The "NATURAL" way...

I have more... But not enough time... I'll be back...

Susan said...

wow!! that was a really long post! you don't talk as much now! lol!!