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Berryhill Bracing To Fight For Faster Flood Repair Funds

Sonora, CA — Seeking relief for storm-damaged counties facing more incoming flood impacts a Mother Lode lawmaker is busy lobbying today.

California State Senator Tom Berryhill, in an interview this morning with Clarke Broadcasting, says that he plans to share an eyewitness account of this winter’s storm impacts across his district.

After visiting Coarsegold in Madera County yesterday, the lawmaker had the opportunity to get a closeup view of the extensive storm-related damage around North Fork due to excessive flooding conditions. The situation there and across other storm-walloped areas, is expected to worsen as high rains continue to melt down the Sierra snowpack, creating a downhill flow overload into already swollen rivers, lakes and streams.

“Seeing it firsthand rises plenty of concerns,” Berryhill confides. “Not only did we just get off of kind of a traumatic event but the ground is so saturated, that with the rains coming through right now, it is all going to run off.” He adds, “With the fires that we have had in the last few years, I am super-concerned about mudslides…into our rivers…reservoirs, and it is all bad.”

Multi-million Dollar Infrastructure Impacts

As reported here, while mid-January storms wreaked havoc across Tuolumne County, its officials quickly declared a local emergency. Calaveras County followed suit soon after. By Jan. 24, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state emergency related to storm-damaged roads across 50 counties (reported here). State OES officials have since made visits to make assessments in both jurisdictions.

The cost to repair extensive roadway damage in Tuolumne County to two roads, alone — Italian Bar and Marshes Flat roads — is estimated to be somewhere in excess of $4 million. Due to potentially crippling expenses impacted counties are now facing, steps are now being taken to obtain a federal disaster declaration. Speaking to that point, the senator says, “We are going to be talking to the Capitol this afternoon and urge them to get to an emergency declaration as soon as possible for all the counties that are underwater.”

As the rains let up and give way to drier, sunnier weather this weekend, Berryhill warns residents and visitors to the Mother Lode to be aware of rising waters and flood-stage threats. “Don’t take chances out there. If water is coming…[towards your residence] get out of there. You can always come back or rebuild a home, you cannot rebuild your life, if you lose it.”

Berryhill estimates that word on more disaster funding might come sometime early next week. In the meantime, he states, “We have to hunker down and get through this weekend — safe and sound — and that is my first concern.”