Madera Sheriff seeks emergency declaration

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rock and mudslides stalled traffic along Highway 41 into and out of Oakhurst as crews worked to clear mud and boulders that slid onto the roadway.

On the Valley floor, flooding closed three rural roads North and West of Madera. Combined with the storm damage Sheriff John Anderson says the county is in trouble. "So we're down to the point now where this is a real emergency."

The biggest problems remain in the Oakhurst area, where nearly 4,000 customers remain without power. Some have generators but many are facing another night in the dark and cold. PG&E crews are working to remove broken tree limbs and re-string power lines. They hope to have power restored within two or three days but company spokesman Jeff Smith warns there could be more problems with falling trees.

"Once the ground is already saturated, which it is, it doesn't take a high level of wind or speed to topple over power lines, particularly trees that weakened already from the previous storm." Smith said.

Because of all the damage the Sheriff has asked the Board of Supervisors to declare a local disaster emergency. "What it does is it gives us the opportunity to do any response that's required then possibly seek reimbursement from the state and federal government." Anderson said.

The Supervisors will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to act on the Sheriff's request.

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madera, madera county, storm, local, gene haagenson
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