The knock comes in the middle of the night. The river is rising and the only thing keeping you and your family safe is a dirt levee built in 1904. For the 2,000 residents of Hamilton City, a farming town 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, this nightmare is a reality. In the past 30 years, they’ve been evacuated six times.
“On the volunteer fire crew we’d be up 24 hours patrolling for leaks and throwing sand bags all night long,” says Jose Puente, 43-year resident of Hamilton City. “We have put a huge effort into getting the levee improved. We need to move forward with this now.”
Hamilton City isn’t alone with its dangerously inadequate levee. The threat of a flood is real for many towns along the Sacramento River. In fact, the Army Corps of Engineers has called Sacramento the city second most likely to flood among large cities in the U.S. New Orleans is number one.
But The Nature Conservancy saw a solution for Hamilton City by combining the needs of people and nature. This powerful partnership could lead to replacing the aging levee with one set further back from the river, creating a win for everyone: making the community safer while providing much needed jobs to the region, and adding 1,500 acres of scarce riverside habitat for the more than 50 threatened species that live in the area.
This cooperative approach catapulted the project onto the national stage, where it now awaits Congressional funding to begin construction. While this can better protect Hamilton City, it also provides a new model for the Army Corps of Engineers nationwide, an effective approach for the fragile Sacramento River flood control system and, quite possibly, the security of our state capital.
Your contributions are essential for this plan to succeed. Throughout California, where we have lost more than 90 percent of our riverside habitat, there are rivers to be restored, public policy to be improved and towns with aging safety systems to protect.
Rivers will always flood. Your contributions will help to manage that flooding and allow the people of Hamilton City to sleep through the night. To restore precious habitat on the Sacramento River and great rivers across the country, please donate today.March 18, 2013