Thousands of people in Northern California were urged to flee their homes as a river threatened to burst its banks Wednesday.
The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department advised about 2,000 people in Wilton — a rural community near Sacramento — to consider evacuating Tuesday evening, as a Cosumnes River levee in Sacramento County was projected to overflow its banks Wednesday. Emergency crews and officials were trying to bolster the levee.
The Red Cross opened two evacuation centers in the area, one in neighboring Elk Grove. However, some residents planned to stay put.
“We have no concerns,” Lill Nichols, who with her husband runs a horse farm near the river, told the Sacramento Bee. “We have animals and can’t evacuate anyway.”
Sacramento County emergency services official Mary Jo Flynn said water was expected to spill over the levee, flooding low-lying roads and buildings with up to 1 foot of water.
She said many of the homes along the path of a possible flood are built on berms or sit on relatively higher ground.
The Cosumnes River is the only river in the western Sierra without major dam control, KXTV reported.
Tim Chappell, who manages the Kautz Vineyard in Wilton, said he remembered the damage from the great flood of 1997.
"Literally, you could not see the vines. It just looked like an ocean," Chappell told KXTV. "At this time, we're fine. Another foot and you know we'll be in more danger."
“The water is crazy powerful,” he added. “Looking at it, watching it. But the sound of it, especially when it breaks ... it's got a really hurting sound to it.”
Contributing: The Associated Press