Red Cross opens evacuation shelters amid flooding

Eight evacuation shelters are popping up throughout the valley after floods wash through California

CENTRAL VALLEY – After a procession of evacuation orders from the Sheriff’s office, residents can find refuge at three refuge centers from the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross is responding to the latest flooding threat as the 11th atmospheric river this winter covers the state. They opened up eight evacuation shelters for residents in need of shelter within the Central Valley, three of which are in Tulare County alone. This comes after Sheriff Mike Boudreaux issued an evacuation order on March 15 for all residences, businesses and structures on both sides of the Tule River. Not only that, but Woodlake, Lindsay, Porterville and Visalia proclaimed local emergencies this month, with many of them experiencing evacuations. The Red Cross shelters are:

Central Valley Chapter

  • Fresno County:  Sanger Community Center (730 Recreation Avenue, Sanger, CA 93657) 
  • Tulare County:  Porterville College Gym (100 E College Ave, Porterville, CA 93257) 
  • Tulare County Exeter Veterans Memorial Building (324 N Kaweah Ave, Exeter, CA 93221) 
  • Tulare County: Dinuba Memorial Hall (249 S Alta Avenue, Dinuba, CA 93618)

Kern County & Eastern Sierra Chapter

  • Kern County:  Kern Valley High School (3340 Erskine Creek Rd, Lake Isabella, CA 93240) 
  • Kern County: 11th Street Community Center (200 W. 11th Street, Delano, CA 93215)
  • Mono County: Bridgeport Memorial Hall (73 North School St, Bridgeport, CA 93517)
  • Mono County: Mammoth Middle School (1600 Meridian Blvd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546)

“Everyone is welcome at Red Cross shelters, and anyone affected by the storms can always stop by the shelter to access Red Cross services, whether or not they are staying overnight at the shelter,” The Red Cross stated in a press release.

When residents come to a Red Cross shelter, they are allowed to bring items for children, such as food, formula, diapers, extra clothing, toys, and any other necessary item. They are also able to bring items for pets, including a leash, pet medications and pet food. Prescription medications and medical devices are also allowed, as well as comfort items, such as pillows, blankets, towels and change of clothing.

This week’s weather was the 11th atmospheric river to hit California since late December, meaning a new storm occurred every 6.5 days, according to the Red Cross press release. The state has gotten between 400% and 600% of its average rainfall since Christmas and the southern Sierra Nevadas have recorded the largest snowpack ever — more than 600 inches of snow.

In light of this, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 1. That declaration included 13 counties in California, one of which was Tulare County. Newsom has now expanded that list to include a total of 34 counties throughout the state, and requested a presidential emergency declaration that was granted by the White House this week.

As the rain continues to fall, even more flooding is expected to hit the county. On March 16, Lake Kaweah reached its capacity allowing for the spillway at Terminus dam to be activated. The additional flow could cause several waterways in Visalia to reach capacity and spill over at various points with some localized flooding near the waterways. It is still unknown the amount of damage these added outflows could have on surrounding communities.

In addition to the Red Cross evacuation center, each city has several resources that residents are encouraged to take advantage of. Additionally, the county and each city is inviting residents to prepare for the upcoming storms. Some ways this can be done are listed below.

  • Utilize cities dry centers  
  • The City of Visalia has a 24-hour self-serve sand station available for Visalia residents at the Visalia Corporation Yard on Cain Street, between Goshen and Main. Residents must bring their own shovel, but sand and sandbags are available at the station. Bags are limited to eight per household. Additional filling stations are located at fire stations throughout the county.
  • Limit unnecessary travel but ensure your car’s fuel tank is full.  
  • Prepare your household by ensuring you have water, non-perishable food and cash on hand. 
  • Create a communication plan for your family.  
  • Unplug any devices at your home if flooding is anticipated near you. Ensure any portable charging devices are fully charged before rain begins. 
  • Prepare important documents in one place and have them easily accessible.  
  • Move important or valuable items off the floor of your home to higher areas such as shelves or overhead space if possible.   
  • If you have a pet, ensure you have a stock of food for them and a plan in place for their care. 
  • Report flooding and damages

If a resident needs a safe place to stay or a hot meal, they can find shelters on, the free Red Cross Emergency app or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) and selecting the disaster option.

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