Eyes on river, Mason Valley sees flooding from unexpected source

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MASON VALLEY, Nev. (KOLO) It seems officials and residents out here have been on constant flood alert and for good reason.

Spring runoff has kept the Walker River running fast and high. Flow rates are watched constantly and even in downtown Yerington no one, it seems, has set aside their sand bags.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, they were watching the river once again. It was rising at an unexpected rate and county officials were considering advising some evacuations.

"It wasn't an evacuation,notice or to have people evacuate. Just getting them aware that there's a potential for a major event." says County Manager Jeff Page.

"We were sitting here fat, dumb and happy and we get a call that there's flash flooding in East Mason Valley. So we changed gears, moved some resources out to East Mason Valley to deal with that."

The flooding was taking place in one area--far from the river--that seemed safe.

"Water was moving pretty quickly through here," says neighborhood resident Missi Haggard. "And we walked around the property and both sides of our driveway are just flowing with water and noticed the roadway was just covered."

"A friend of ours called and said 'Have you got a flood over there?'" says Jim Lenning. "I said, 'I don't know. I don't think so.'' I walked out on my porch and looked and we had a lake. It was terrible."

People like Lenning who've lived here for years say it's not the first time this has happened and they fear it won't be the last.

"Why can't they divert that water over there to that reservoir they've got over there? So instead of coming down here or putting in a reservoir."

Page says the National Weather Service figures the thunderstorm that hit the mountains east of here dumped two inches of rain and the water ran where it has run before, down the slopes, underneath Highway 95A and into the rural neighborhood below.

It happened before homes were built here and periodically it still happens.

Solutions aren't easy because, he says, there's no place to send the water. It runs off federal land onto private. Even drainage ditches would have to be dug on private property.

Cleanup will now be necessary, but that won't be the end of it. The flooding left standing water in several spots and those areas and nearby fields will soon start to breed mosquitoes and gnats. Aerial spraying with a larvicide will begin in the next few days.

Meanwhile, no one is taking their eyes off the river.