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KSEE | ‘Could’ve done more’: Woodlake residents to officials on March flood


TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – Around 100 businesses and residents have filed a civil claim against the city of Woodlake, the county of Tulare, and other agencies.

The documents claim those agencies did ​not do all that they could to prevent flooding in the Woodlake area, which has impacted thousands of people.

The devastating flooding last March caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage in the Woodlake area.

They claim officials knew this could be what was going to happen and could have done more to prevent it.

One man who had to rebuild his home after the flooding says he feels after months his questions and concerns are being ignored.

“Were the right measures taken, and that is the questions and concerns that I had,” said Joshua Diaz.

He along with dozens of other people have filed a Tort, or civil claim, against several state, county, and local agencies.

Joshua Diaz and his family have been out of their home for six months, ever since the rapid snowmelt and heavy rainfall of the winter storms flooded Antelope Creek back on March 10th.

“Challenging to say the least. We weren’t expecting it, we knew there was heavy rain,” he said.

Diaz thought he and his family were out of the flooding zone. They did not have flooding insurance because their house was not built on a floodplain. A common problem among him and his neighbors.

“We felt relatively safe. But to wake up that morning and see the water slowly creeping up in our neighborhood, it was surreal,” said Diaz.

People affected by the flooding in the county filed six different claims against the city of Woodlake, the county of Tulare, the state government, and other flood and irrigation agencies.

A first step towards potentially suing.

“Prior to suing a government entity, you have to present a claim to that entity, make those allegations, and they have time around 45 days typically to respond,” said Shant Karnikian. He is a partner and attorney with Kabatek LLP and is working with Diaz.

Diaz considers himself lucky since he was able to stay with family while he worked on his home.

Tens of thousands of dollars his money later, and in late September, he and his family finally moved back in.

“We’re barely moving in, it’s been six months, and finding the means to rebuild,” he said.

The last time Woodlake flooded like this was more than 50 years ago, in 1969.

But now, as winter creeps around again, Diaz still feels his questions from March, are still not being answered.

“In that 50-year period, it begs the question, what was done? And if something was done, was it enough to prevent future flooding.”

A representative from Tulare County told us they have received the claims and are looking them over.

The city of Woodlake told us, they are still helping people with their flood claims. All the agencies have 45 days to respond to these claims.

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