Friday Top of the Scroll: Winter storms exposed the unfairness of California’s flood protections. Are marginalized areas closing the gap?
The floods driven by winter storms are nothing new in Monterey County, but the early March catastrophe that swelled the Pajaro and Salinas rivers and drowned farmworker communities exposed the extreme inequality built into flood-control systems. The immediate cause of the flood were the winter storms that struck the California coast, but the disaster that breached levees in towns like Pajaro was decades in the making. It was based on two decades of official neglect shaped by federally mandated cost-benefit analyses and the lack of community engagement that might have challenged their conclusions. For years, particularly after the major floods, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considered bolstering the Pajaro River levee, which was originally built in 1949.