Markleeville digs out, readies for more flash flooding

A day after heavy thunderstorms flooded the Markleeville area, people were digging out.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 7:10 PM PDT
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MARKLEEVILLE, Calif. (KOLO) - Wednesday was a day residents of this small Sierra town had been both half expecting and dreading for the past year.

Last July the surrounding mountainsides were literally on fire threatening the town itself. Markleeville survived, but the possibility of heavy rains falling on the barren slopes left by the Tamarack Fire has worried people here ever since.

And yesterday it happened. Water rushing off the hillside just a quarter mile north of town, washed out a culvert under Highway 89, undercutting the roadway and sending floodwater and debris into the downtown.

Owners of several businesses arrived to find several inches of mud at their doorstep, water seeping into the buildings. They also found neighbors, unsummoned, armed with shovels, already hard at work.

“There were people already here cleaning up when we got here this morning,” said Faith Saletti, owner of Stone Fly Restaurant. “We were very grateful for that.” “You didn’t call and say ‘I need help?’” “No, but they reached out to me with texts and on Facebook asking ‘What can we do? What can we bring?’”

“All of a sudden people from town just started pouring in with their shovels,” added Teddy McKone, whose Intero Realty is next door. “So, everybody just came together and helped to get it cleaned up very quickly. It was amazing and very heartwarming.”

Cleanup done, those with pickups made repeated runs to the fire station for sandbags. Again, everyone pitched in.

So basically it’s been a day of cleanup here in Markleeville, neighbors just showing up to help out and they got it pretty much cleaned up. But a glance at the dark clouds above town reminded everyone another flood may be coming.

That didn’t happen while we were there, but if the worst happens Markleeville will be ready.

It’s been a difficult year for this town. The fire isolated it for a time last summer and left the outside world wondering what they would find if they ventured here. Tourism has dropped off. And now it is once again difficult to get here. The washout on Highway 89 will need a major repair. At that moment the only way into Markleeville was from the south, a winding climb up and over Monitor Pass and it’s still closed to all but residents. Another challenge for this historic town.

Whatever comes, it’s a good bet Markleeville will handle it.

“We’ll get through it,” said Faith Saletti. “It’s a tough little town. We’ll get through it.”

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