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Parts of Sacramento almost had catastrophic flooding after pumping plants lost power

Parts of Sacramento nearly washed away after flooding pumps lost power
Parts of Sacramento almost had catastrophic flooding after pumping plants lost power 02:34

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -  At the height of this weekend's storm parts of Sacramento were nearly washed away after the equipment responsible for preventing flooding lost power.

 "Well, this is probably the highest I've ever seen it," says Riverboat captain Jack Shrive. He says he's noticed changes in the Sacramento River. "There's a lot of current a lot of debris."

Weeks of rainstorms are to blame for the dynamic river conditions, and pumps in the Natomas area are responsible for flood prevention.

 "This is the electrical room…all of this equipment you see in here operates those pumps down on the deck," says Gabe Holleman, the operations manager for Reclamation District 1,000. He gave us a tour of one pumping station responsible for keeping the Natomas neighborhood of Sacramento above water.

 "They take water out of the Banning Canal and they discharge it into the Sacramento River. Without these drainage canals -- without these pumps -- folks in Natomas could potentially flood," said Holleman.

This past weekend, that nightmare nearly became a reality.

"I got a call from a staff member that all district pumping plants had lost power," says Holleman.

The district has seven pumping plants, and SMUD lost power to every one. A diesel-powered backup generator was able to support the pumps while power was fully restored.

"If that didn't happen, catastrophic flooding. We're talking one to two feet of water in the basin everywhere," said Holleman.

This is a potential problem in the future that Holleman hopes can be avoided with additional funding and maintenance.

"We're looking to receive additional funds to keep Natomas safe -- that's what it's all about," says Holleman.

The district's capitol improvement plan includes money for backup generators at each pumping station and replacements for older parts to keep the pump systems running smoothly. If approved, those generators could save Natomas from severe flooding in the future.

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