Residents of the Riverland Resort near Kingsburg had to move out Monday due to flooding caused by snow melting high in the Sierra that has swollen the Kings River.
The water started coming up Friday, and by Sunday a lake that is part of the resort started overflowing. Water covered the riverfront beach and started flowing underneath some of the cabins next to the river.
A sign on the main office at the entrance to the resort said the park was closed due to flooding until further notice.
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Flows in the Kings River, and most waterways in the central San Joaquin Valley, are high now as flood-control officials release water from area reservoirs to make room for runoff from melting snow in the Sierra.
Riverland has about 300 permanent residents.
Mike Owerko lives in a motor home that was parked in a Space 45 between the lake and the Kings River. He and his wife have lived there for 10 years. The lake is connected to the river, and both started rising Saturday.
That 50-inch plasma TV is gone.
Riverland resident Mike Owerko
“It came up quick,” Owerko said Monday morning.
At 7 a.m. Sunday, the Riverland maintenance foreman woke Owerko up and said he had to move his motor home. The water had surrounded it and soaked several possessions stored outside, including a TV.
“That 50-inch plasma TV is gone,” he said. “It was already underwater” when he got up Sunday.
Kevin Kibler, an electrician, moved into a trailer next to the river about nine months ago.
“It’s our first summer here, it didn’t turn out so well,” he said with a smile. “There was talk Friday it might get to this point.”
He and his wife rent the cottage on wheels and were boxing their possessions to move, although it’s not clear where they would go, he said. He owns a motor home that’s in storage, so that’s an option.
All the riverside cottages, which are on wheels, must be moved because the Kings will rise, said maintenance foreman Sergio Magana.
There were about 20 of them and a few had been moved out as of Monday morning.
In the next day or two, this whole little peninsula is going to be submerged.
Tulare County Fire Department Capt. Joe Rosa
“Everybody has to leave, we talked to them,” Magana said. “When they awoke, the water was up.”
The cottages on wheels are on a peninsula between the river and a lake, said Tulare County Fire Department Capt. Joe Rosa.
“In the next day or two, this whole little peninsula is going to be submerged,” he said.
Steve Hart lives in a trailer next to the river when his construction jobs bring him to the region. He didn’t loose any possessions, but said he was getting ready to relocate the trailer to higher ground at Riverland.
Like some residents, he questioned why water managers increased the flow in the river.
“For two months it was a normal flow,” he said of the Kings River. “I don’t know why they waited so long to dump it (water out of Pine Flat Reservoir), that’s my question.”
More water was released into the Kings River from Pine Flat over the weekend and Monday, said Kings River Water Association hydrographer Ed Dittenbir.
“The heat is bringing down the snow faster than anticipated,” Dittenbir said.
Pine Flat was 93 percent capacity as of Monday and rising, causing the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the lake, to send more water down the river.
An apartment building on the river at Riverland has about 26 units and permanent residents, but they don’t have to leave yet, Magana said. The ground-floor patios of the apartments had been sandbagged.
Due to high water, the Kings River remains closed to recreation in Fresno, Tulare and Kings counties.