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Homeowners frustrated county road flooding leaves them stranded

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RED BLUFF, Calif. - Homeowners in Tehama County are frustrated because the only roadway in and out of their neighborhood is by boat.

Eric Leslie has lived off Saron Fruit Colony Road for a couple years now. He explained when rain hits the region and water is being released from Shasta Lake their homes are completely surrounded by water.

"It was kind of shocking, to be honest," Leslie said.

He said this winter the road has been flooded more often than not and it is frustrating. Leslie added Saron Fruit Colony Road is a county road.

"You would think we would have a safe way to get home, no matter what the weather conditions are," he explained.

There are eight families who become stranded. Leslie said they do not let the water stop them from their normal routine.

"We work with neighbors to make phone calls and coordinate boats because there are a limited number of boats and eight families," Leslie said.

They also check daily to see if the road is passable.

"We all talk, our neighbors and we send messages to find out if the road is clear," he said.

If the road has fast flowing water over it then they put on their life-jackets and row across the water.

However, a couple weeks ago their neighbors were canoeing across when their canoe tipped over sending them into the water. Rescue crews were able to save two of the three.

Now Leslie wants to see a change to the county road.

"I'm sure we are going to put together a team effort, tackle it together," he said. "So we can have a unified front to make a case"

Gary Antone, Tehama County Public Works director, said it is his understanding when people move to the area they are made aware of flooding.

Leslie said he was told the road flooded, but it was rare.

Antone said there is not much the county can do.

"At this point, we will research the area, take a look at what is there," he explained. "We don't have, obviously, the funds to go to that site and put in a bridge which is what would have to occur in order to keep the folk's feet dry all the time."

Antone mentioned the area runs along the Sacramento River and is basically meant to flood.

"It's one of the overflow floodways that gets filled up periodically over the years when we have the high waters," he said.

Antone added that a bridge would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. He said if the community was built today it most likely would have a bridge because the standards are different.

Antone explained the recent storms in the area have caused damage to the roadways, especially with all the truck traffic hauling material from the rock quarries to Oroville. He said they are looking to file paperwork to declare a disaster.

"We are looking forward to doing that so that we hopefully can get into some of the relief funds that may be out there to help us address the issues because it's not just any single area. It's various areas around the county we are dealing with," he said.

However, even if they declare a disaster the county would not be able to use the funds on helping the eight families off Saron Fruit Colony Road.

"A bridge structure would have to be a program event through the state and federal bridge program in order to do that work," he explained.

Leslie just hopes something gets done to make their road safer.

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