Lindsay weathers storm, helps neighbors amid flood

The city of Lindsay cleans up damage after major storm, city council hears recap on the city’s flood response

LINDSAY – After weathering the storm that engulfed most of the county with water, the city of Lindsay reported back to residents with news regarding sustained damage and local clean up efforts.

Lewis Creek breached on March 10, causing around 20 homes to flood within the city of roughly 12,000 people. Though the amount of rainfall was an anomaly for the often drought-stricken valley, Lindsay’s chief of police Rick Carrillo said that the small town of Lindsay came together to withstand the localized flooding. They even extended help to surrounding communities, like Porterville. Now, the city is preparing for any future flooding, as well as cleaning up damage and debris that the flood waters left behind.

“We’re tiny but mighty. That’s what I preach. We have enough staff now to do what we need to do to protect our city comfortably,” Carrillo said. “Some of you might have woken up like I did Wednesday morning and saw that Porterville was in dire need of assistance. We were combating a creek. They’re combating the river. That’s an immediate threat to life.”

The city is calling this year’s flood the Lewis Response 2023. Lewis Creek raged not in just one area, but in three. Director of city services Neyba Amezcua said that the flooding was primarily in the west side of Lindsay, where the city had five pumps running to keep the water down, including a berm that was built. However, since the river was so full, it began overflowing the berm. Carrillo said that officers were able to respond to calls within the city concerning the floods, but luckily since they are fully staffed, they also had enough manpower to help their next door neighbors in Porterville.

“It’s been pretty hellacious, but I can tell you the end result was the mission was accomplished,” Carrillo said. “Not only did we take care of our own city, but we tried to be a resource to those in our immediate area as well.”

Lindsay’s public safety department was able to send five officers to Porterville the morning that the Tule River began to flood surrounding areas. There was also an officer monitoring Tonyville. In both areas, the city was available to provide safety transportation for residents who needed to evacuate or escape their flooded properties.

“I can tell you based on the training we’ve had over the last year, we were ready for it. And now we’re more than ready for the next event because we know what’s inevitable. It may not be a flood and maybe fire but we’re ready for it,” Carrillo said.

Amezcua said that currently, the city has five major priorities post-storm. The first priority is to finish reading water meters. The recent storms prevented city staff from doing so, causing them to be roughly a week behind schedule. Second, the city is focused on fixing potholes that were a result of the rain. There will be two crews working on filling those holes.

Next, the city is focused on cleaning up local areas of flooding and monitoring Lewis Creek in the case another storm rolls around. The city will be actively removing debris from roadways and properties. Fourth, the city is manning its sandbag station to help residents prepare their homes. Lastly, the city is going to be monitoring weed control. After the last storm, the city has been riddled with weeds, so there will be staff cleaning up areas where new growth is prevalent.

“Compared to the situations of other cities, I think our city has to come together and help each other out, not just staff, but the council has helped out a lot and the members of the public,” Mayor Hippolito Cerros said.

Many of the city’s operations are resuming as expected, however, there are still certain buildings still closed to the public, such as part of Lindsay’s Wellness Center. According to city manager Joe Tanner, half of the building is still inoperable. The other half is still serving the public with Omni Health and Pro Physical Therapy. All roads are open as well, and city hall has also opened its doors back up to the public. Next city council meeting, Carrillo will be giving a summary of improvements needed and successes made in the city’s flood response. Overall, however, Carrillo emphasized the community’s part in the flood response.

“It was all for good effort, we were all working together,” Carrillo said. “[Looking back on] the response from some of those that were coming to get sandbags, they were loaded up by [high school volunteers] and they came back 10 minutes later with four pizzas and a case of water. We truly saw what Lindsey was all about this last week.”

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