Though soaked, city better prepared than in ’97
December 31, 2005
The New Year came in with a wave as Carson City and the surrounding communities found themselves battling floods and mudslides brought on by the onslaught of three moisture-packed winter storms.
Carson City residents awoke Saturday to find the capital city’s main arteries flooded by fast moving rainwater that carried down the mountains trees leveled by last summer’s Waterfall fire.
Carson City declared a state of emergency at a special meeting of the board of supervisors around 7 a.m. Saturday morning.
In Ash and Kings canyons, about 4 to 6 inches of rain were estimated to have fallen and central Carson City reportedly got an estimated 2 to 3 inches, according to Brian Brong with the National Weather Service.
At Lake Tahoe, the storms raised the lake level a half foot between Friday and Saturday, according the National Weather Service in Reno.
A vehicle parked at Gottschalks had water up to its windows and the driver of a white Cadillac underestimated the depth of water on North Curry Street that began pooling behind the Shell Gas station about 7:30 a.m.
By 9:15 it was up to 5 feet, said Charles Hooper of Batteries Plus.
The abandoned vehicle floated in the water, moving with each wave brought on by passing vehicles.
That Curry Street was still open at 10 a.m. with that much water, angered Vital Signs owner Mike McIntosh.
“The city needs to just block the damn road! It’s creating damage to my shop when people drive through it,” he said, trying to avoid the wakes that washed up to his building. McIntosh said the water was especially deep because the city neglected to clear a storm drain on Curry Street before the rain started.
“What the hell are you doing!” He shouted at a truck making its way through.
By noon the road was blocked by cones.
Some homes on Murphy Drive were evacuated as a precaution, said Sheriff Ken Furlong.
Retention ponds in front of Quiznos and Starbucks gave the businesses lake-front property as water crept toward Highway 395.
This was the worst flooding the city had seen since the floods of 1997, said Mayor Marv Teixeira, but that flood taught the city invaluable lessons.
“We had as many as 180 people out on the streets all night placing sandbags in strategic locations. We were very, very prepared. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the people out there busting their butts to protect this community,” he said. “When you look at it compared to ’97, this is nothing. But this thing is not over and I suspect the cleanup will take a while. “
Roads that weren’t closed due to flooding, were bogged down by mud and rock, such as Timberline Drive, just past College Parkway, and Waterford Place and Longview Way.
Homeowners at a residence at the bottom of Timberline spent their morning digging out their garage.
Just off Kings Canyon Road, neighbors pitched in to help a homeowner who was out of town.
When Neil Rombardo decided to check on his friend’s Ormsby Boulevard home, he found water filled the laundry room, mud room, game room and garage.
Fortunately, the main areas of the home hadn’t yet been breached, he said.
Rombardo sprang into action, gathering up as many bodies as he could find, including seventh-graders Jonathan and Connor and 8-year-old Riley. By 10 a.m., nine people were in a line, piling sandbags around the home.
“I just called out a bunch of friends,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep the water out as best we can.”
Chris Van Dyck, who was offering his help, said this flood was similar to 1997, but for one major point.
“They were more prepared this time. The city did a good job,” he said.
Storm drains couldn’t keep up with the heavy rain, causing flooding in low-lying areas such as U.S. 395 by the Carson Mall.
In Douglas County, officials reported small mud or rock slides but no major problems.
Also in Douglas County, standing water closed Genoa, Mottsville, Centerville and Muller lanes between U.S. 395 and Foothill Road.
In Lyon County, localized flooding and flash flooding was reported in Dayton, Dayton Valley, Mound House, Silver City, Stagecoach and Mark Twain. Standing water of about 4 feet was reported in some areas. Two trailer parks in the Dayton Area were evacuated and residents were offered shelter at Sutro Elementary School in Dayton. Yerington and Mason Valley reported some power outages.
Highway 50 East in Mark Twain and Stagecoach was flooded in both directions, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Capt. Jeff Page with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department.
Flooding from the Carson River forced the closure of Highway 395 over Cradle Bough bridge in northern Douglas County about 8:30 p.m.
With the instability brought on by the Waterfall fire, Franklin Pemberton, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, cautioned against people attempting to drive in Kings or Ash canyons.
“Although post-fire reseeding and soil stabilization efforts have been conducted in areas where fires have burned in the past, these efforts may not be enough to prevent flooding and mudslides. The extent of damage to roads and drainages on Forest Service lands is not currently known,” he said. “It is extremely important that people do not attempt to access Forest Service roads or cross flooded washes.”
The fiercest of the rain is expected to have subsided by today with possible rain and snow tonight, Brong said. It’s likely to rain again on Monday, but rain is not forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.
Officials from Carson City, Storey and Douglas counties plan to view the area from the air today in a Nevada National Guard helicopter, according to Lt. Col. Steve Ransom, joint forces headquarters public affairs officer.
“We’ll fly a surveillance mission and let them assess the damage,” he said.
The guard helped with sandbagging in Reno and, in Carson City, served inmate crews at a mobile kitchen set up at Northern Nevada Correctional Center .
n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213. Night editor Sally J. Taylor contributed to this story.