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Is California ready for a levee break?

The SacBee wants to know:
"Even the most thorough planning will be defeated somewhere," said Jeffrey Mount, a state Reclamation Board member. "You expect to have failures, you expect to have surprises, but not total, complete breakdown."

The Central Valley, while as much in danger's path as New Orleans, is closer to higher ground and has more escape routes, said Mount, a geology professor who has written a book about California's rivers.

It also has had practice. More than 120,000 fled high water in Yuba and Sutter counties in 1997, in what state disaster officials believe probably stands as California's largest evacuation.

The region also drills and plans with a sometimes ruthless precision for the bigger disasters that it so far has escaped.

Yolo County, for example, has a contractor ready to send forklifts to each side of the Yolo Causeway to keep traffic flowing during a mass evacuation. Their sole mission: Lift up any stalled car and drop it off Interstate 80 into the waters below.

In other ways, preparations still are fumbling. While census figures show about 51,000 people in the city of Sacramento alone live in households with no car, no one knows if they're clustered on high ground or low, and no one has planned how best to get them aboard buses...
I've "climbed" the highest point in Sacramento County, all 828' of it. IIRC the area has some rolling hills, but it's more or less the flatlands.
Carole Hopwood, Sacramento County's emergency manager, has agreements in place that let her call on all Regional Transit buses to get people out, but so far her grasp of the details is sketchy...
Much more at the link.

California · Mon, 09/12/2005 - 04:35 · Importance: 1