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Storm Causes More Closures As Tuolumne OES Seeks Repair Dollars

Sonora, CA — As the Mother Lode gets walloped with more heavy wet weather, officials are juggling closure reports with repair updates from last week’s storms.

As previously reported here, the Tuolumne supervisors last week declared a local emergency, due to extensive rain-related road damage. Now, “We are on call..watching, gearing up,” states County Deputy Administrator and OES Coordinator Tracie Riggs. Among the roads the county is seeking funding assistance to repair are Kewin Mill, Italian Bar and Marshes Flat roads, which remain impacted. A temporary bridge, as reported here, is creating a temporary fix at Kewin Mill Road.

“We actually have a [Cal OES] representative in the county right now, who is out with our road engineering department, and they are taking them to each of those sites…doing what is called an initial damage assessment,” Riggs shares.

Riggs adds that a total of 14 other counties have since submitted similar proclamations to the Director of Cal OES, who will determine if they meet the threshold for the state to seek a federal proclamation. Regions include the Bay Area, which last week sustained significant storm damage, Riggs points out. If Governor Jerry Brown makes a proclamation, the counties will be able to tap state disaster funds, which require a 25 percent local match. With a federal proclamation, the local cost share would be further reduced to 6.25 percent.

Riggs confirms that sand bags continue to be available in Tuolumne County at each of the following five locations:

Columbia Airport, 10723 Airport Road

Big Oak Flat, 11240 Wards Ferry Road

Tuolumne Yard, 18870 Birch Street

Jamestown Road Yard,  18188 7th Avenue

Tuolumne City Fire – 18690 Main St, Tuolumne

Waterlogged Tuolumne Library Remains Closed

The Tuolumne City branch of the Tuolumne County Library, which closed during last week’s rains, will remain so indefinitely, according to Riggs. “The entire left wall that faces the playground has some substantial, significant damage due to water and leaks,” she explains.

An insurance inspection will include bringing in a hygienist to determine if the damage impacts include mold and/or fungus. Riggs confides, “We do not know if there is. But from what I am being told, that entire wall will need to be replaced and we cannot do that until we have good weather, so that is why there is an indefinite closure, at this point.” She adds, “Everything has been tarped out so all the supplies…everything inside the library is safe…but we cannot have staff or public in there while we are trying to get these repairs completed.”

Evaluations are underway to see what club and other activities hosted at the Tuolumne branch might be moved next door to the Recreation Department building, which is located next door. Riggs alludes that Story Time and other library programs and activities are available at the Sonora library branch.

Landslide Closes STF Road

Due to a sizable landslide, Stanislaus National Forest (STF) officials report that Cottonwood Road, which crosses the STF’s Mi-Wok and Groveland Ranger districts, is now impassable about a quarter mile east of the Clavey River Bridge. The road, known as FR 1N04, is not expected to be cleared anytime soon. “With another series of storms approaching…we believe it is not advisable to schedule work crews to clear this and the other debris on Cottonwood Road,” states Forest Engineer Tim Hughes.

Hughes continues, “Cottonwood Road is not maintained for winter driving and we do not advise traveling any of this route between River Ranch Campground and Cherry Lake. Snow, ice, rocks and landslides pose hazards to anyone passing the warning signs posted at each end of Cottonwood Road. We ask the public to respect these warning signs and avoid traveling on posted roads like Cottonwood Road during the winter.”

When traveling on Stanislaus National Forest during weather events, please travel at a speed safe for the conditions – you never know what’s around a blind curve; there might be rocks, debris or a tree in the middle of the road.