ICYMI 1/19/23: Preventing a Flood Disaster in Stockton

California’s next flood could destroy one of its most diverse cities. Will lawmakers try to save it? – GRIST, 1/19/23
Climate change could submerge Stockton beneath 10 feet of water. The city’s aging levees aren’t prepared.

“Thanks to decades of disinvestment, the city’s only flood protection comes from decades-old, leak-prone levees. If a major rain event caused enough runoff to surge down the mountains and northward along the San Joaquin, it could burst through those levees, inundating the city and flooding tens of thousands of homes. One federal study found that much of Stockton would vanish beneath 10 to 12 feet of water, and floods in the lowest-lying areas could be twice as deep. The result would be a humanitarian disaster just as costly and as deadly as Hurricane Katrina…

Even as Stockton’s infrastructure decays, the city’s flood risk is only increasing thanks to climate change, which will cause more severe rains in the San Joaquin Valley and further stress the city’s levees. The city has grown at a rapid pace over the past two decades, but state and local officials have been more focused on protecting local agricultural irrigators from drought than on protecting the city’s residents from flooding. When the next big storm hits, it is Stockton’s communities of color, which make up more than 80 percent of the city’s population, that will see the worst of the damage.

“We are at the bottom of the bowl,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta, a Stockton-based environmental nonprofit. “We’re the drain. And they don’t value us.”…

As it has grown, Stockton has become one of the most diverse cities in the country, with substantial Mexican, Filipino, Chinese, Cambodian, and African American communities. Many of these have poverty rates that are much higher than the state average, and they also face severe environmental justice risks…

“Because of redlining and historical discrimination, we have a lot of people of color, and people are at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, right behind these levees,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.
Read the full article here

Related Posts