Local News

Jan 22, 2010 12:10 AM by Stacy Daniel

All eyes on the Santa Maria levee during the wild weather

When we see the amount of rain that we've seen over the last several days, the thoughts of everyone in Santa Maria turn to one thing, the levee and how it's holding up.
Santa Maria resident, Nora Gatewood says,"It's usually dry. But, now it's like I say, flowing like a rive should flow." The Santa Maria river is actually just run off from the hills burned are by various fires in the area. A busy fire season usually makes for a busy rainy season. Santa Barbara County Deputy Public Works Director, Tom Fayram says,"With the bare slopes the water runs straight off and so you get a lot more water and you get it a lot faster than you would if you didn't have the fire. So, the fire dramatically increases the water and the water is the enemy of the levy because it's the water flow that's going to wash the rocks out and cause the problem."
Crews are working around the clock to make sure the levee holds up. So far so good. At the moment workers say the river is relatively low. It's not even touching the levee. And residents want it to stay that way. Nora Gatewood says,"We're just hoping and praying everything is fine and that it doesn't overflow it's banks and cause any problems." Kenneth Gatewood says, "We like to come and see. Whenever there's water in here we like to come and look at it, see how much." A constant flow of people have been showing up since the rain started coming down. Some are here out of curiosity, others are here to ease their concerns. Kenneth Gatewood says, "This amount of water that I've seen, I'm not concerned yet because I've seen much more. Now, if it gets a little more I might get a little more concerned but right now I'm not." While we were out there we talked to the crews out there checking on the levee. They say everything looks good.

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