Two different breaks occurred within a few hours near Hole 18 and Hole 17 of the Kingsburg, Calif. property. The flooding, caused by heavy snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountains, prompted mandatory evacuations of about 90 homes near the course, affecting 300 people, and also prompted cancellation of the Kingsburg Gun Club’s annual trapshooting competition, because the trap houses were underwater.
Levee breaches along California’s Kings River late Friday and early Saturday, June 23-24, caused by heavy snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountains, prompted mandatory evacuations and flooded the Kings River Golf and Country Club in Kingsburg, Calif., along with the Kingsburg Gun Club and seven structures, The Fresno (Calif.) Bee reported.
The gun club’s annual trapshooting competition, which had attracted hundreds of shooters throughout California and out of state, was postponed because the trap houses were underwater, The Bee reported.
Tulare, Calif. Fire Capt. Joe Rosa said the first levee breach occurred about 10 p.m. near Hole 18 of the country club’s course, and the second, a few hours later, was near Hole 17, The Bee reported.
The state trapshooting competition was postponed until July 22-23, said Scot Hopson, a gun club Board member and former President. Ground conditions will determine whether the competition is held in Kingsburg or moved to two sites in Redlands, Calif. and Livermore, Calif. That decision will be made by the Amateur Trap Association and the California Golden State Trapshooters’ Association, Hopson said.
The state competition has to be finished by August 1 to qualify for the grand nationals, Hopson told The Bee.
This is the first time that the competition, which has been held for about a half-century, had to be postponed because of flooding, to the disappointment of organizers and participants, Hopson added. “A lot of people are involved in putting it on, it’s our biggest annual shooting event,” he said.
The only damage so far to the gun club was the waterlogged trap houses, because the clubhouse and other property are on higher ground, Hopson said.
About 400 to 500 shooters had signed up to compete Saturday and several hundred Sunday, Hopson said.
Attendance was somewhat lower this year, possibly because of the triple-digit heat wave that has blanketed the region for more than a week, Hopson said.
Ninety homes near the course were under a mandatory evacuation order because of the flooding, and residents south and west of the course were under a voluntary order, said Teresa Douglass, spokeswoman for the Tulare County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Department. About 300 people had to evacuate, The Bee reported.
Water damaged seven structures and 18 RVs, Douglass said. Sandbags were being placed by hand and dropped from the air, she told The Bee.
Paul Aslan, 53, a five-year member of Kings River G&CC, donated his boat to help carry sandbags across the water. “We’re loading my boat and taking [sandbags] to the firemen to repair the banks,” Aslan told The Bee. “We’re trying to help the homes, too, so we’re shoveling the sandbags so we can prevent the water from getting into the homes.”
Todd Esajian, 37, who lives near the course, saw his property flood rapidly on June 24, The Bee reported.
There was initially a gopher hole near the bottom of an outdoor wall, Esajian said. However, it widened as water started flowing, and his front and backyard flooded.
“The water started getting under the wall and it just started to get out of control from there,” he told The Bee.
Sandbags were placed around Esajian’s home, which was still dry by midday of June 24, The Bee reported. However, he said he didn’t know whether he would be able to go back inside Saturday night.
“There’s not much you can do to control it, so [I’m[ just doing the best in this situation,” Esajian said. “It’s just amazing seeing what happens when a river breaches. It’s something I thought I’d never see.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls flood releases from Pine Flat Dam into the Kings River, made two reductions Friday prior to the breaches, bringing the water flow to 14,200 cubic feet per second (cfs), said Randy McFarland, spokesman for the Kings River Water Association.
Pine Flat was expected to reach its capacity of 1 million acre-feet Saturday night, although there is room to hold an additional 13,000 acre-feet, McFarland told The Bee.
Officials must consider how much water is coming into the lake from snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the lake’s capacity when determining the outflow, he said.
“We’re all sick about what’s happening down there, but it would have been so much worse if the dam had not been built,” McFarland told The Bee. “With flows of 20,000 cubic feet per second [coming into the lake], what we’re seeing now would have been nothing compared to what would have occurred.”
Barring any dramatic changes in water flows from snow melt, the Army Corps of Engineers expects to maintain the water flow out of Pine Flat at 14,200 cfs for the next several days, said Tyler Stalker, spokesman for the corps in Sacramento.
Officials are monitoring Pine Flat, taking forecasts and having ongoing discussions, which include considering the impact of water flow on the levee breaches east of Kingsburg, Stalker told The Bee.
Some relief in temperatures is in sight as the area copes with the aftermath of the flooding, Jim Andersen, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Hanford, Calif., told The Bee. After triple-digit temperatures through the weekend, highs were expected drop into the 90s starting Monday and continue through the week. And the best news, Andersen said, is that “it will finally cool down at night into the 60s, so we get a little bit of relief.”
Flood warnings along the Kings will remain in effect until 2 p.m. on June 26 for northeast Kings County, northwest Tulare County and central Fresno County because of Pine Flat water releases, The Bee reported. A flood advisory for the San Joaquin River is in effect until 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27.