Flood Victims, Local Officials Wait for Government Help and Possibly More Floods

Waiting for help from the Small Business Administration, home owners and renters in the Oak Creek area near Independence have mostly found homes or rooms to rent temporarily. A huge rain event, flood and mudslide in mid-July tore down the Oak Creek drainage and destroyed as many as 20 homes.

Inyo Sheriff Bill Lutze said that officials from the SBA have toured the area at the request of the state Office of Emergency Services. Everyone now waits for a response from SBA. Meanwhile, the Salvation Army has helped with meals and set up a thrift store on Main St. for those who may need furniture, clothing and other items.

Sheriff Lutze said there is still concern about a lot of sediment in the south fork of Oak Creek. The north fork remains diverted by DWP. Craig Holste, Caltrans Deputy Director, said that the north fork will remain diverted while Caltrans moves fast to install larger culverts to accommodate a heavier flow if needed.

Holste did say that the Office of Emergency Services asked Caltrans to return the flows of Oak Creek to the original stream bed to protect the highway and surrounding area. Holste said crews did manage to accomplish that feat. Holste said there is still a lot of unstable soil above the Oak Creek area and a lot of sediment created by last July’s major fires.

Sheriff Lutze said that he would ask the Board of Supervisors to extend the declaration of emergency next week as agencies nervously wait for any new developments.

As for the famous Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery, crews continue to clean up the race ways that use to house the broodstock trout. The future of the hatchery seems somewhat uncertain. Many believe in the importance of the facility.

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