County Supervisor Blames Fish & Wildlife for Flooding Disaster

Weeks after heavy rains and flooding wiped out homes and displaced thousands of residents in the Planada and McSwain regions of Merced County, one supervisor is pointing a finger. District 3’s Daron McDaniel says the blame lies squarely with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which repeatedly failed to issue permits to clean up local creeks. 

“They have held up our permitting process. We are not allowed to clean our creeks, and that’s why we have flooding in Merced County,” McDaniel said, as quoted by the Merced County Times.  

“They have held us up from being able to work in those creeks for over five years… I mean there are trees now in the middle of our creeks because we are not able to cut them.”

McDaniel says he heard the same complaints from elected officials in Santa Barbara and Monterey at a recent Rural Counties Representing California (RCRC) meeting. 

By contrast, McDaniel said county agencies like the Emergency Operations Center, Public Works, and the Sheriff’s Department showed incredible resolve during the disaster. 

But county officials have also taken heat for the flooding response. Planada civic leader Alicia Rodriguez says she tried to warn Supervisor Rodrigo Espinosa about the vulnerability to Miles Creek just before the levee broke. She claims nothing was done. 

The flooding impacted the entire 4,000-person town of Planada. It also impacted thousands in Le Grand and McSwain. Over two dozen commercial structures were affected, causing business interruptions for hundreds of employees. 

According to Supervisor Scott Silveira, it will take around 18 months for the county to rebuild.


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