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After the storm, the American River Bike Trail remains active

American River at the Watt Avenue Bridge

A storm in Sacramento can shut down many things, as we saw the past weekend, with one of the most powerful showers we’ve seen all year. But it can’t stop bike trail enthusiasts from enjoying the outdoor adventure along the American River. The latest SacTV.com video shows how the bike trail at the Watt Avenue Bridge was completely unaffected by rising water levels and the threat of mudslides. The storm had subsided by Sunday after three days of pounding rain and Monday appeared to be a mellow aftermath. Meanwhile, the island at the Watt Avenue Bridge appeared to be almost underwater.

History shows that some of the worst storms to ever hit the Sacramento area created levee damage and flooding along the American River, but not so much the Sacramento River. The Discovery Park area, though, seems to always be a concern. This storm, despite warnings from the National Weather Service, seemed to cause minimal damage, but it doesn’t mean people should ignore the issue. The American River is not only one of Sacramento’s biggest strengths due to its natural beauty, but is potentially one of the area’s biggest hazards. Just because this storm was not a big disaster doesn’t mean the levee system is okay and should be ignored.

Not all areas of the region were this lucky. Reports surfaced over the weekend of Roseville residents being evacuated temporarily as a result of rising water levels. It’s not clear yet how serious this problem was but it’s always a major inconvenience when a fireman knocks on your door and says you have to vacate your property. Most of us in the region seem unprepared for an actual massive flooding disaster, as we learned back in the mid 1990s with dangerous flooding. 

To refresh people’s minds about Sacramento flooding history, Downtown ended up completely underwater as a result of floods in 1850, 1862 and 1863. It was so terrible, people had to sail in boats to get across town. Even Governor Leland Stanford had to sail on a boat to get to his inauguration ceremony. After that local leaders decided that river flooding was too risky to ignore. Even though the solution at the time was keep constructing buildings at higher elevations, city and county officials convinced the state that the American River needed to be rechanneled so that water would run off into Yolo County instead of Sacramento. The solution ended Sacramento’s worst flooding nightmares, but now we are faced with the problem of an old levee system that needs upgrading. 

At the moment everything appears to be calm and the problem doesn’t seem to stand out. Flooding dangers appear to be overshadowed by what the Sacramento Kings need to do to improve their season or what Downtown Plaza needs to do to not have such a ghost town atmosphere. At some point, Sacramento will need to address the levee issues. Sometimes the best way to make people conscious of community issues is through music. Luckily, a local band called Pyschosomatic has a song called "Concrete Rain" to at least keep the issue on our minds. After a national tour, they’ve returned home and will be performing this Friday, December 7 at the Blue Lamp. 

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