Remembering the 1986 Floods

This editorial from the Bee Sunday, February 19th continues their superb coverage of the flood threat in Sacramento, which has seen articles on a regular basis covering all aspects of the situation.

Other work is also generating attention. The Sacramento Metro Chamber’s board chair, Frank Washington is calling flood prevention the number one priority for the Metro Chamber in 2006 and they are also sponsoring, as part of their Power Breakfast Series, a session on Wednesday, March 15, 2006,7:30 to 9:00 AM, at the Hyatt Regency called: Flood Control: A Time for Action.

You can call 916-552-6808 ext. 176 or go online to metrochamber.org to register. Cost is $40.00 per person.

Here is an excerpt from the Bee Editorial.

Editorial: 20 years later, lessons of ’86 flood still resonate
It’s only a matter of time before the rivers once again threaten. Will we be ready?
Published 2:15 am PST Sunday, February 19, 2006


Twenty years ago, a series of historic storms roared in from the Pacific and dumped more than 40 inches of rain on some stretches of the Sierra. The flooding in places was horrible, from Guerneville on the Russian River to Linda on the Yuba.

In Sacramento, the levees by and large held back the flows. But there were nail-biting moments, particularly along the American River, which held more water than any time in modern history. It was quite a flood. Yet it proved to be the alarm that Sacramento desperately needed.

Look around the Sacramento flood control scene today, and just about all the improvements that are under way or on the drawing boards can trace their roots to the 1986 flood. They include new flood walls for creeks in the south county; stronger levees on the American River; a new spillway, (Congress willing) for Folsom Dam; a taller Folsom Dam. All are projects of the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, a coalition of local governments in Sacramento and Sutter counties. SAFCA did not exist before the 1986 flood.

As hard as it may be to believe today, flood protection just didn’t seem like that big a problem before these storms began to reach shore two decades ago. Folsom Dam, so the community and government officials thought, was big enough to handle a storm that has a one-in-250 chance of happening in any given year. How wrong we were.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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