2017-02-16 / Front Page

Relentless rain causes damage to infrastructure

Some roads, bridges still closed
By GREG LITTLE Editor


Shown above is a bridge on White Rock Road in southwestern Mariposa County. The roadway of the bridge was completely washed away during the storm two weeks ago. Other damage has also occurred around the County over the past two weeks as several major storms moved through the area. White Rock Road is located south of Cathey’s Valley. 
Submitted photo by Sandy Bunning Shown above is a bridge on White Rock Road in southwestern Mariposa County. The roadway of the bridge was completely washed away during the storm two weeks ago. Other damage has also occurred around the County over the past two weeks as several major storms moved through the area. White Rock Road is located south of Cathey’s Valley. Submitted photo by Sandy Bunning Even Noah may have had a hard time navigating Mariposa County last week.

Torrential rains saturated the County, causing mudslides, road erosion, bridge issues and property damage — both public and private.

And more rain is in the forecast for later this week. The National Weather Service is forecasting rain for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, though the predicted amounts are, at this point, much less than last week.

The National Weather Service is predicting 2-4 inches of rain in Mariposa County for that period, though all forecasts are subject to change.


This was Hornitos Road near Old Toll Road last Friday afternoon. 
Submitted photo by CAL FIRE This was Hornitos Road near Old Toll Road last Friday afternoon. Submitted photo by CAL FIRE Last Friday was the day the majority of rain struck this area, especially in Mariposa, where a deluge lasting for more than two hours overloaded storm water systems and roads.

Roads throughout the County are showing signs of heavy damage, as well as bridge decks, a couple of which have been wiped out.

Two weeks ago, the bridge deck on Indian Peak Road just west of Hirsch Road was swept away by flood waters. That bridge remains closed.

Another bridge on White Rock Road south of Cathey’s Valley was also rendered useless after its deck was wiped out by flooding.

A section of Westfall Road near Chowchilla Mountain Road was also damaged, and water was reported running over many roads in the County — including state highways.

Mike Healy, Deputy Director of the Mariposa County Department of Public Works, said Tuesday crews are working on various projects as a result of the flooding.


Water was pouring through the 49er Center last Friday afternoon. 
Submitted photo by CAL FIRE Water was pouring through the 49er Center last Friday afternoon. Submitted photo by CAL FIRE As far as a damage estimate, Healy said they are still working on establishing the cost.

“We are documenting all of our hours and materials,” said Healy.

Also, he said they are still discovering issues and he is encouraging the public to contact public works if there is an issue. You can do so by calling 966-5356.

With new storms predicted, Healy also said situations “can change,” including priorities of the department.

“Conditions are changing,” said Healy. “The ground is saturated.”

He also had advice for all residents: “Stay safe.”

Here is the latest information from public works about the damage:

North County

• Removing debris from large pipe on Bull Creek.

• Picking up debris from large slide in Anderson Valley.

• Cuneo Road is closed because of two large springs causing soft spots. In addition, the road is not maintained from November to May.

East County

• Indian Peak and Hirsch area closed.

• Indian Peak at Bowers Crossing remains open and is being repaired.

• Second repair on Usona Road washout. Road remains open.

• Repair to washout on Boyer Road. Road remains open.

• Washout on East Westfall being repaired. Road remains open.

• Rocks being applied to two soft spots on Schafer Road.

• Large washout on Chowchilla Mountain Road (dirt portion). Working with Sierra Tel on repairs.

West County

• Hornitos Road at Whispering Oak has large rock plugged in inlet. Road remains open.

• White Rock Road still closed off of Old Highway West because of washed out bridge approach.

• Mormon Bar crossing closed, work still needed.

• Agua Fria closed because of damage.

• Beach Road closed.

49er Center issues

Another major area that suffered damage was the 49er Center, located on the east side of Mariposa. The center houses Foster Ace Hardware and several other businesses.

“It was like waterfalls cascading,” said Bill Yaley, manager of the center.

Yaley said it was two weeks ago when the first heavy rains caused problems at the center. He said there is a metal building on the property above the center and the water could not get through that area. The water was so powerful it lifted the slab of the building, he said.

Another drain near that building was installed, however, “it couldn’t handle the water on the second rain,” said Yaley.

Yaley said a meeting was held on Monday of this week between the property owners and contractors.

He said the decision was made to put in another drainage near the clothing store in the 49er Center. It is near the driveway that goes behind the center.

In addition, he said they are going to build up the berms near Highway 49 “so there is no more erosion.”

That will be a temporary fix, he said, to get through the rainy season. A permanent fix will then be done later in the year.

Through all of the rain, Yaley said there was minimal damage to any of the businesses.

“We were very fortunate,” said Yaley.

There was water in most of the buildings, he said, but “nothing that hasn’t been taken care of.”

With rain once again in the forecast, Yaley said officials are staying on top of the situation.

“We’re prepared,” he said.

He said sandbags are already in place at the location in case there is more flooding.

“The people are wonderful,” said Yaley.

He said as soon as there were issues, people from throughout the community “really came together and did a wonderful job.”

Overall response

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors, several reports were given about the emergency response during last week’s flooding.

Sheriff Doug Binnewies reported that 15,000 sandbags were used during the various operations, including at 49er Center.

Rich Drozen of CAL FIRE said five inmate crews from the Mt. Bullion Camp were used to help fill sandbags and do other work.

Drozen also spoke about the ongoing drought and the impacts it has had on flooding in the County.

“There is a lot of material flowing with the water,” said Drozen. “It seems like we are getting our 100 year floods every five to 10 years.”

Greg Little is Editor of the Mariposa Gazette and can be reached at greg@mariposagazette.com.

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