Heavy rains and powerful winds wreaked havoc across Kern County, California this past weekend, triggering emergency evacuations and devastating flooding in the Kern River Valley. An unusually strong atmospheric river brought with it extreme weather conditions that are expected to continue throughout the month of March.
On Friday and Saturday, the north fork of the Kern River surged to a staggering 45,000 cubic feet per second – a near-record volume – and caused major destruction, with Frandy Campground in Kernville amongst the worst hit. Manager Beverly Demetriff described the inexplicable damage to her campground as “astonishing”, noting that she would need to bring in many loads of dirt to repair it. Northern Kern County is bracing itself for more kern river flooding in 2023.
Kern River Flooding 2023: Northern Kern County Braces for Unprecedented Destruction
On Friday, an atmospheric river unleashed a deluge of rain on Southern California and the Central Valley. Kern County officials issued evacuation orders for Kernville, Riverkern, Tillie Creek, and Wofford Heights.
More than 200 personnel from the Kern County Office of Emergency Services rushed to the scene to assist with evacuating affected districts, stretching from south of Riverkern to the north of Old State Road and east of Arnold Spring Spur Drive. Though this event has been a reminder of the kern river flooding in 2023, northern kern county remains largely prepared for potential floods.
Northern Kern County has been hit hard by kern river flooding in 2023. The historic snowfall of recent weeks has led to accelerated snowmelt that has caused unprecedented destruction.
Record-breaking storm systems known as atmospheric rivers have flooded roads, brought down trees, and driven some Northern Kern County residents to seek refuge in shelters. Deputy Fire Chief Billy Steers described the situation as “compounded” by the effects of this extreme weather.
Kern River Flooding Disaster: Northern Kern County Braces for 2023 Catastrophe
As the Kern River steadily rose to record levels, the situation began to look dire for residents of the Kernville area. Firefighters from Kern County Fire Department took immediate action and went door-to-door to inform local residents of the potential for flooding due to the kern river flooding in 2023 and urged them to evacuate.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood was quick to stress that this situation is more serious than any flood they have faced before. Evacuations may be on the horizon for Northern Kern County as they prepare for one of history’s worst kern river flooding events.
As Northern Kern County braced for the kern river flooding in 2023, officials issued an evacuation order, recommending those affected to take Sierra Way and Highway 178 all the way to Kern Valley High School on Erskine Creek Road in Lake Isabella.
In response, Kern County Emergency Services contacted over two thousand people in preparation for the floods. A veteran center was opened to shelter those in need, however, it has since closed due to the influx of people seeking refuge. Fortunately, another shelter is opening at the Elks Lodge on Wofford Heights Boulevard to help ease this burden.
The Red Cross has been actively providing meals, snacks, emotional support services, and health care to those affected. Moreover, evacuation assistance was available until 11:30 a.m. on Friday and after that, Kern County Public Works reported the closure of 30 roads across the county.
Snow chains have been made mandatory on Rancheria Road, Mil Potrero Highway, Sierra Way, and Glennville area roads as safety measures for drivers. The kern river flooding will likely affect Northern Kern County for some time.
State of Emergency Declared in Kern and Tulare Counties Due to Devastating Flash Flooding
The National Weather Service in Hanford has declared a state of emergency for northeastern Kern and southeastern Tulare County, due to a flash flood warning that is expected to remain in effect until Friday night. The severe storm system is predicted to dump up to twelve inches of rain, which could cause extensive flooding throughout the area. Residents are warned to be prepared, as the kern river flooding in 2023 could be among the worst in recent years.
Caltrans has warned residents against non-essential travel in the area, as Interstate 5 is still open but with speed restrictions due to standing water and dangerous conditions. The California Highway Patrol has urged all travelers to be mindful of their safety and avoid the area if at all possible. With more storms expected, kern river flooding and Northern Kern County could be in for a tough few months ahead.
Kern County in California Braces for Potential Emergency During 2023 Kern River Flooding Event
Kern County in California is bracing for the potential of an emergency situation in the face of a potential kern river flooding event in 2023. In preparation for this possible disaster, President Joe Biden signed a presidential emergency declaration on Friday which provides access to critical federal resources and services should they be needed by the state and local governments.
Robert Barker, a spokesperson for FEMA, has noted that this declaration is only precautionary and does not guarantee federal assistance. To further prepare for the kern river flooding, Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop is expected to present an emergency declaration before the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Kern River Flooding Evacuation Details
Kern County is providing evacuation transportation assistance to residents with physical limitations until 6 p.m. each evening. If you need help evacuating, be sure to call the Aging & Adult Services hotline at 1-855-264-6565 before the deadline.
After that time, we cannot guarantee assistance will be available, so make sure to contact them as soon as possible. In the event of an emergency, dial 911; otherwise, get in touch with Kern County Information and Referral Services at 211 for more information.