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Atmospheric river batters eastern San Joaquin Valley foothill communities

Highway 190 Pleasant Oak Drive.
California Highway Patrol
Highway 190 Pleasant Oak Drive.

This report aired on KVPR, 89.1/89.3, on Friday, March 10, 2023. Read the transcript below.

ELIZABETH ARAKELIAN, HOST: An atmospheric river continues to batter the eastern San Joaquin Valley. Evacuation orders are in place for Springville, Three Rivers, North Fork and much of the Kern River Valley. KVPR’s Joshua Yeager reports.

JOSHUA YEAGER: The threat of catastrophic flooding has forced thousands of southern Sierra Nevada foothills residents to evacuate. The Tulare County Sheriff ordered evacuations in Springville after the Tule River rose nearly 10 feet in a matter of hours Friday morning. Dramatic footage shared on social media showed flood waters rampaging down roadways and through homes. The current storm could drop up to 10 inches of rain at higher elevations, says Dan Harty with the National Weather Service.

DAN HARTY: It’s too much for these rivers to handle.

YEAGER: Harty says the storm is expected to taper off over the weekend.

HARTY: The brunt of it is today.

YEAGER: But lingering rains could pose additional threats to waterlogged communities. Evacuation centers are open in Tulare, Fresno, Madera and Kern counties.

For KVPR, I'm Joshua Yeager.

Joshua Yeager is a Report For America corps reporter covering Kern County for KVPR.