Flooding sweeps through valley

Photos by Carol Davenport (top) and Elissa Morgan Beckham (bottom)
Flooding swept through the Kern River Valley last week, closing the canyon and destroying roads as it went. Top, flood waters rush through Onyx, taking signs with them. Bottom, a washout caused a prolonged closure of Caliente Bodfish Rd. on the way to Havilah.

Photos by Richard Peterson / Special to the Sun
Southern California Edison maintains power poles along the flooded portion of Lake Isabella Blvd.

By Ashley Loza
Kern Valley Sun

Rainy weather hit the Kern River Valley hard last week, leaving several roads closed for more than a day.

The U.S. National Weather Service issued a flood watch on Tuesday, March 5, for a portion of Central California including the Kern County mountains. The NWS gave special precaution to areas under burn scars, as these areas are especially susceptible to flooding.

The rain brought rockslides to the Kern River Canyon, which remained closed while road crews blasted large boulders out of the road. The closure lasted until late Thursday.

Excessive flooding and road washouts also closed Caliente Creek Rd., Caliente Bodfish Rd., Lake Isabella Blvd. and Sierra Way. While most roads were open by late Thursday, Lake Isabella Blvd. and Caliente Bodfish Rd. were momentarily closed again for repairs.

Late March 6, the Kern County Fire Department also believed that the flood control embankment along Kelso Creek would be impacted by the heavy rain and issued and emergency evacuation recommendation. Powers Tract, Weldon Valley Ranches and Valley Estates were evacuated for about 3 hours before the evacuation was lifted.

Many school bus routes were impacted as well, leaving much of Lake Isabella’s south side and Havilah without bus service for children. Students in South Fork were on a delayed schedule because of the weather as well.

As of press time, only Caliente Creek Rd. and Kelso Valley Rd. remain closed.