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Sandbags Help Hold Back Carmel River At Flood Stage

Gusty winds and heavy rain continue to impact the Central Coast. The Carmel River reached flood stage this Valentine’s Day.  

A muddy brown Carmel River is rushing under Rosie’s Bridge in Carmel Valley this week.

On Thursday, two hydrologic technicians with the U.S. Geological Survey measured the flow of the river. Cameron Popkin used what looks like a metal dolly.

“This is a crane. We have a reel on it. It's kind of like a big fishing line and there’s a weight that holds our meter down. We're using a 100 pound weight because it's flowing really good,” Popkin said.

The Carmel River reached flood stage just after noon Thursday. The National Weather Service issued a Flood Warning for the river at Robles del Rio through 4:30 am Friday. The agency warned low-lying homes along the river are in danger of flooding. 

Brian Baggett and Joshlyn Scheid Baggett’s Carmel Valley home sits along it.

“I'm just watching, a little bit nervous,” Joshlyn said.

The nearly 300 sandbags lining their back deck kept water from coming in.

“I try to mostly just kind of protect underneath the deck, where the water can get in and wash out soil and undermine some of my piers. So they work real well,” said Brian.

Over at Garland Ranch Regional Park, near the Dampierre baseball field, hundreds of sandbags also line the bank of the river.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sent an inmate crew with the Gabilan Conservation Camp to help fill and place the sandbags.

Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District Supervising Ranger Caine Camarillo says a stormy winter in 2017 caused big problems.  

“Two years ago, the park flooded from the Carmel River and wiped out the parking lot and signage and trails. So what we’re trying to do now is build a sandbag retaining wall,” Camarillo said.

Brian Garcia with the National Weather Service says unsettled weather remains in the forecast through the weekend.

“With the ground so saturated already and with the rivers flowing really high already, any additional water could cause some issues. So we’ll be watching for the showers rolling through,” Garcia says.

He says rain will likely taper off by Sunday. Then, a cold front moves in. That could mean more snow in higher elevations.

Erika joined KAZU in 2016. Her roots in radio began at an early age working for the independent community radio station in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. After graduating from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 2012, Erika spent four years working as a television reporter. She’s very happy to be back in public radio and loves living in the Monterey Bay Area.
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