RIO VISTA — The California Conservation Corps geared up for dealing with winter flooding with a daylong flood preparedness exercise Wednesday on the levees of Twitchell Island.
More than 160 California Conservation Corps members gathered from 11 different centers from Humboldt County to San Diego County to spend the day honing flood-fighting techniques such as filling sandbags, constructing sandbag walls and building rings around levee boils.
The best part of the exercise is that the weather cooperated, giving sunshine instead the rainfall, which they would likely be working in if they were doing the real thing during a real flood.
“We are testing our system for how to deal with a flood,” said Brian Lussier, a conservation supervisor with the California Conservation Corps.
The California Conservation Corps is a state agency made up of about 1,300 young people from 18 to 25 who spend a year in the program doing outdoor and emergency response work throughout the state. Their work includes building trails, planting trees and landscaping when they are not dealing with natural disaster relief.
Every late fall, crews are trained in how to fight floods in order to be ready for the winter weather. Wednesday’s exercise was the biggest exercise of the year thus far.
“We have done all of the major floods,” said California Conservation Corps spokeswoman Susanne Levitsky. “When we get a state flood response notification, we will be ready to go to help out wherever we are needed.”
Short of actually breaching one of the levees on Twitchell Island, the exercise was a real as they could make it. The California Conservation Corps had been to Twitchell Island at least once in the past to deal with actual flooding there, according to Levitsky.
California Conservation Corps members were split into five groups to learn the finer points of sandbagging and setting up flood barriers. One of the crews was supervised by Erik Weinmeister, who oversees one of the crews at the facility in Ukiah.
“Once we are done here, we will take what we have learned back to train the other crews,” Weinmeister said.
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