Truckee River raging, but not like 1997
As the Truckee River raged through town Saturday morning it wasn’t quite as angry as it was during the historic flood of 1997.
At about 10 a.m. Saturday, flows on the river through Truckee were 6,030 cubic feet per second, according to the federal Water Master’s office in Reno. That’s compared to high flows of 11,900 cfs in 1997.
The river height gauge reached nearly 10 feet that year. On Saturday morning it was 6.97 feet, according to officials at the Water Master’s office.
Still, the river was running high and fast Saturday, as Trout Creek, Donner Creek and Cold Stream were all adding heavy flows into the river.
Dinny Harter lives on Riverside Drive where her backyard abuts the river. While she and her husband Rich moved into the home in 1999 and weren’t there for the 1997 flood, she said the previous owner showed them the high-water mark.
“It’s been to the ’97 mark,” Harter said Saturday. “We stayed home and sweated it. From our downstairs bedroom it looked like we were living on a boat.”
Several neighboring homes on the street sit closer to the river, she said, but none had been damaged as of early afternoon Saturday. Harter said the river had actually receded somewhat over the course of the morning.
“It looks like it will get better before it gets worse,” she said.
Areas of Truckee were flooding as of noon Saturday, particularly those near Trout Creek downtown and Donner Creek near Deerfield Drive and Highway 89.
The Town of Truckee opened its Emergency Operations Center on Saturday morning, said Alex Terrazas, assistant town manager. He said sandbags are available at Fire Station 92 near Truckee High School for resident who need them.
Otherwise, he said officials are “asking folks not to travel if they can avoid it.”
With Interstate 80 closed for at least two days due to a large landslide, Highway 89 south closed due to flooding and slides and Highway 267 extremely slow going because of heavy traffic and chain controls, scores of motorists are stuck in Truckee. Terrazas said that town officials will meet at 4 p.m. Saturday to determine if a shelter needs to be opened for travelers and any residents forced from their homes.
“At this point a shelter hasn’t been opened,” he said.
Meanwhile, Terrazas said residents should be prepared for power outages. And if people are using portable heaters or generators they should be used in well-ventilated areas. If people must venture outside, they should be on the alert for downed power lines and bodies of standing water on the roadways.
After high water washed out sections of West River Street during the 1997 flood, the Town of Truckee spent nearly a half-million dollars to place boulders along the riverbank. The rocks appeared to be doing their job on Saturday.
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