Military Responses to Disasters
Northern California Floods, 1958
Petaluma 1958 (Sonoma County Library)
National Guard Response
No floods occurred in California after the big flood of 1955-56, until February of 1958. On 24 February 1958 lashing rains and gale force winds dealt the Northern area of California a two-fisted pummelling that filled to capacity the various rivers and streams. Evacuation was a probability in many areas as the rising waters and strong winds threatened already seriously weakened levees. The Concord, Oroville and Red Bluff armories were opened to house evacuees and the Guard stood by for action. On 25 February 1958 the storm had spent itself and the second storm forecasted missed the coast of California. However, in many areas the Guard assisted the civilian authorities in alleviating the storm damages.

During late March the rains came again and by 1 April 1958 the situation was critical. Throughout Northern California approximately 450 California National Guardsmen were on duty from 1 April through 9 April 1958. The critical areas were Stockton, Carmel Valley, Visalia, Santa Clara County and the Concord-Brentwood area. The equipment utilized to assist the civilian authorities included amphibious and cargo trucks, wreckers, ambulances, light aircraft, helicopters, radios, kitchen equipment, etc. The situation became so critical in the Carmel Valley area due to lack of local help that the Governor directed the troops to deviate from established policy and serve as laborers to sandbag the river's levees at the most critical points. In all other areas the personnel were utilized in evacuation, transport, sentry duty and other military duties.

Source: 1956-1958 Biennial Report of the Adjutant General of the State of California


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Posted 6 December 2017