In August at the mayoral debate the state of the dam was brought up. Both candidates assure the citizen of Santa Ramona Valley that dam repairs and upkeep was high on their list of priorities. The weekend of October 27-29, 2018 the lack of responsiveness on the part of current Mayor Ren Aquila and former Mayor Aria de Saragosa proved to be a very costly mistake.
Rick, as the great storm was called by meteorologist, hit the coast right at the Santa Ramon
a Valley around noon on Saturday, October 27. In the next few hours the town was not only beaten by winds but by heavy rains.
By 3pm winds had reached 30mph and water levels began to rise. It was those heavy rains that flooded Pacific Avenue forcing residents to seek shelter, many at the Hotel Cortez. Other evacuations began. By 4pm the rains increased in force and the winds reached sustained rates of 50 mph. This combination knocked out the power.
By 6pm, the dam was start to feel the pressure. The concrete structure held but the mechanics inside that adjust the flow of water became stressed. Governor Jay Stone, onsite at the dam, gave the emergency broadcast to evacuate as control system blew. The water streamed through the release portal and quickly overflowed the drainage canals.
This overflow took out not only low lying areas but flooded most of
town with 6" - 7” of water. Homes and businesses with even a small step foundation were saved from more than just an annoyance of water. Other place, places built at or below ground level flooded. The Boiler Room, Alley Cats, and this reporter’s basement were just a few of the new indoor pools in Santa Ramona Valley.
Finally on the afternoon of Monday October 29 engineers replaced the failed systems of the dam which allowed the water levels to drop. Many flooded places needed to be pumped or bailed out but not further structural damage occurred.
Throughout the entire ordeal the men and women of the Santa Ramona Valley emergency services worked tirelessly to protect and rescue citizens. Through their efforts no lives were lost and only only minimal looting was reported. They have our thanks.