Kellene Stockwell
Channel 2 News
 
 

Updated: 7:11pm

Governor Jim Gibbons declared a State of Emergency at 2:00 p.m. PST for Lyon County. 

Currently, state, local, and federal agencies continue to work together to ensure that residents are safely relocated and receiving any needed assistance. 

The State of Nevada contacted FEMA early this morning following notification of the levee breach.  FEMA immediately deployed emergency resources to Northern Nevada. Due to inclement weather, FEMA expects to arrive at Fallon Naval Air Station within the next 12 hours with food, blankets, bedding, and other emergency supplies. The Nevada National Guard will oversee the disbursement of the supplies.

"Our number one priority is ensuring the safety and security of the Fernley resident's effected by the levee breach.  Assistance from surrounding communities, statewide first responders, businesses, residents, and the federal government has been outstanding.  We continue to work diligently to ensure that local residents have the supplies and assistance they need until they can safely return to their homes," said Governor Jim Gibbons.

The state Emergency Operations Center will continue to monitor the flooding and is working closely with FEMA and local agencies to ensure that the needs of displaced residents are being met.

"Again, we continue to utilize all state, local, and federal resources to provide the utmost safety to the community of Fernley," Governor Gibbons added.

Updated: 6:31pm

About 500-600 acres flooded; 300-400 homes affected by levee breach.

Updated: 6:07pm

The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating with Nevada state and local officials in response to the canal breach in Fernley.

The breach occurred earlier today, flooding approximately 800 homes and displacing about 4,000 individuals.

FEMA Region IX's Advanced Emergency Response Team is deployed to Carson City.  Upon arrival, the team, comprised of eight emergency specialists, will operate from the Nevada Emergency Operations Center in Carson City. 

Joint federal/state preliminary damage assessments will take place at first light tomorrow, Jan. 6. FEMA's Region IX Regional Response Coordination Center in Oakland, Calif. remains at a 24-hour operational status. 

"I am extremely pleased with the overall response from the local, state and federal partners, said FEMA Region IX Administrator Nancy Ward. "FEMA and our federal partners will continue to assist Nevada and California as this incident unfolds."

Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons said, "Helping the people impacted by this disaster is our top priority. We are seeing outstanding cooperation from emergency responders at all levels of government and the private sector."

Updated: 5:23pm

From the Associated Press:

An irrigation canal's earthen levee ruptured today, flooding hundreds of homes in Fernley, Nevada.

Authorities say a 150-foot-long section of the Truckee Canal broke around 4 this morning in the town on the eastern side of the Sierras, about 30 miles from Reno.

Dozens of people have been rescued by helicopters and boats across about a square mile of the desert town.

No injuries were reported. But as many as 3,500 people were temporarily stranded and more than 100 gathered Saturday afternoonm at a shelter set up at the local high school.

Residents reported fleeing homes filled with 2 feet of water and rising.

The levee break occurred in freezing temperatures and followed a storm that dumped 4 to 6 inches of snow in the area.

As the water receded and immediate danger passed by mid-morning, Fernley Mayor Todd Cutler said he received reports of damage to at least 300 to 400 homes.

One official suggested burrowing rodents could have contributed to the break but the cause wasn't immediately clear.

The canal brings water from the Truckee River, starting just east of Reno and running to the farming community of Fallon, about 60 miles away.

Updated: 4:26pm

The American Red Cross has released this statement:

The Red Cross does not take donations of household items, so please do not bring items to the shelter. At this point we do not know what anyone needs for their homes, so that is one reason why we don't accept items, but we also have all the supplies we need at the shelter.  

Also, there is a "Safe and Well" website that we use to track the victims so that people nationwide can find out the status of their loved ones.   

We're asking all those impacted by the flood to register at https://disastersafe.redcross.org/default.aspx Anyone coming to the shelter will be put into the data base, but it's also good for anyone that is impacted but not at the shelter to register as well so that loved ones will know they are safe. 

Updated: 3:17pm

From the Associated Press:

A levee break in Nevada poured freezing water into homes this morning and stranded thousands of people.

It happened before dawn in the small town of Fernley, east of Reno.

Authorities say a 30-foot section of the Truckee irrigation canal broke, sending more than 3 feet of water into about 800 homes.

School buses, helicopters and boats were sent in to rescue about 3,500 residents from homes and rooftops.

No injuries were reported.

An official with the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District says water into the canal was diverted soon after the break.

It was raining heavily and then snowing overnight in the area but authorities say the canal didn't overflow.

Right now, they suspect the break occurred because a gopher or rat hole left a weak spot in the earthen side of the canal.

Updated: 1:39pm

Victims can call the Nevada Division of Insurance at 687-4270 or 1-800-992-0900 ext. 4270.

Updated: 1:15pm

Congressman Dean Heller talks with Channel 2 anchor Wendy Damonte at the Fernley High School evacuation center.

He says his staff is talking with FEMA to get funding to Nevada, but it cannot be released until the federal declaration is signed. "The delegation is going to start working on this, we're waiting for the governor to start working on this emergency. The delegation will write a letter to the president. The president at this point will then seam it out and we get some federal funds out here as quickly as we can. We'll be working on this afternoon and get that on the president's desk this afternoon at five; we're going to work on this quickly."

He says he plans to take a helicopter tour of the area.

Updated: 1:13pm

The Lyon County Fire Chief says 18 official rescues have been confirmed.

Updated: 12:40pm

During a live press conference Gov. Jim Gibbons says he's "very impressed with FEMA's response" and "has stepped up" to deal with the break.

Lyon County Fire Dept. Chief Scott Huntley says about 100 people are at the emergency shelter and that the department's first priority is getting people back into their homes.

No injuries have been reported.

Updated: 12:29pm

During a live press conference held at the Fernley fire station, Mayor Todd Cutler says they're making sure the city's water supply is staying clean and clear of debris. He says they have not been informed of anything wrong with the supply.

Governor Jim Gibbons says the water is now receding although it reached about eight feet in some places. The breach is now being back filled.

Gibbons has talked with FEMA and says the government agency should be '"anding in Fernley soon."

Later this afternoon he says he will sign an emergency declaration.  

Updated: 12:18pm

Channel 2 anchor Wendy Damonte reports live from the evacuation center set up by the Red Cross.

USGS says earthquakes did not cause the break and that they were falsely reported.

Updated: 11:40am

A homeowner tells Channel 2 water continues to rise at her home near Prairie. About one foot water is currently in her basement.

Updated: 10:25am

More helicopters are on standby if needed.

Evacuation center set up at Fernley High School; call 575-3400. An evacuee tells Channel 2 about 150 people are at the shelter.

Animals can be taken to the Dayton Riverside Vet Hospital; call 671-0176.

Water starting to recede.

Updated: 9:40am

NAS Fallon's Zip Upham says he doesn't know how many people may still be trapped in their homes. Have two helicopters rescuing people.

Updated: 9:26am

About 75 people are at the emergency shelter set up at Fernley High School. Several school buses are bringing evacuees in.

Updated: Saturday 9:17am

Truckee Carson Irrigation District President Ernie Schank says during a live phone interview that a gopher hole cave-in may be the cause behind the levee break. "We received a call at 4:45am this morning from the sheriff's department to our people and we were there immediately. We've been watching the canal all night. It was evidently a rat or a gopher hole; the canal didn't top the bank."

He also says yesterday's heavy rain did not weaken it and that they were "prepared for the storm."

Schank also talked about getting the water turned off. He said they have a shut off valve at a place called Yokum.

-----

A countywide emergency declaration has been made for Lyon County after the Truckee Canal levee broke early Saturday morning in the eastern Fernley Farm District Road area.

Crews are rescuing nearly 4,000 people right now off roof tops with helicopters and are using boats.

At least 200 homes are currently under three feet of water. Flooding is expected to continue around Farm District and Ricci Roads. The Lyon County Sheriff's Office says flooding has expanded to Shadow Mountain Drive and Cottonwood Lane.

Evacuees can go to Fernley High School.

Fernley Mayor Todd Cutler told Channel 2 during a live 8am update that the electricity is out, and that there's been no injuries "to my knowledge."  

Reporter Jen Jackson mentioned she saw several agencies including the Nevada Highway Patrol, Washoe County Sheriff's Office, NAS Fallon and the Reno Fire Department helping getting people out.

--

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RENO NV
750 AM PST SAT JAN 5 2008

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN RENO HAS EXTENDED THE

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
NORTH CENTRAL LYON COUNTY IN WESTERN NEVADA...

* UNTIL 1015 AM PST

* AT 740 AM PST...LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS CONTINUED TO
REPORT FLASH FLOODING FROM A BROKEN LEVEE OVER THE WARNED AREA.

* LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO FERNLEY

FLOOD WATER FROM A BROKEN LEVEE ALONG THE TRUCKEE CANAL WILL
CONTINUE TO CAUSE FLOODING OF THE AREA AROUND FARM DISTRICT ROAD AND
RICCI ROAD IN FERNLEY. LYON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE HAS REPORTED THAT
THE FLOODING HAS EXPANDED TO SHADOW MOUNTAIN DRIVE AND COTTONWOOD
LANE. ADDITIONALLY...COUNTRY ROADS AND FARMLANDS ALONG THE BANKS OF
THE TRUCKEE CANAL AND OTHER LOW LYING AREAS ARE SUBJECT TO FLOODING.

DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE
ROADWAY. THE WATER DEPTH MAY BE TOO GREAT TO ALLOW YOUR CAR TO CROSS
SAFELY. MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND.

A FLASH FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLOODING IS OCCURRING. IF YOU ARE
IN THE WARNING AREA MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY. RESIDENTS
LIVING ALONG THE TRUCKEE CANAL AND NEARBY STREAMS AND CREEKS SHOULD
TAKE IMMEDIATE PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY. DO NOT
ATTEMPT TO CROSS SWIFTLY FLOWING WATERS OR WATERS OF UNKNOWN DEPTH
BY FOOT OR BY AUTOMOBILE.