The city manager of a small Central Valley town is calling for action after a disturbing new study about California’s risk of a megaflood.
Firebaugh is home to just 8,500 people. It sits on the San Joaquin River, 38 miles west of Fresno. It’s a great place to raise a family, but it’s also the kind of place that could be devastated by a major weather event.
A megastorm like the one scientists are warning about could mean “flooding for many days. [A] potential hazard to really wiping out the city," City Manager Ben Gallegos told NPR's Leila Fadel.
The city was flooded out in 1997 and struggled with evacuations. Gallegos wants his city to be prepared when ‘the big one’ comes.
If Firebaugh waits, Gallegos fears assistance will be eaten up by larger locales.
“You think about San Francisco, Los Angeles. Is the state really going to say — or the feds — let me give Firebaugh $50 to $60 million to upgrade the levee, or should we give it to somebody else?" he said. "They say, 'Oh if we lose that town, what impact is it going to have to the state?' Well, it's going to have a lot of impact to the state."
Read more about Gallegos’ warnings here.