Feds expand flood risk zone in Atwater Village and Elysian Valley

Flood-prone area shown in blue

Flood-prone area shown in blue. Click for larger view | L.A. Bureau of Engineering

The Army Corps of Engineers said that more than 3,000 properties – most of them in Atwater Village and Elysian Valley – are at risk during major flooding along the L.A. River, says the L.A. Times. That’s much higher than previous estimates and means more property owners will have to buy mandatory  flood insurance and developers might be forced to build the first floors of buildings several feet above the ground to stay above potential flood waters.

Large riverside areas between Elysian Valley on the south and Burbank on the north could be submerged under an average of between 5- to 10 feet of water during a 100-year flood, according to updated flood maps.  Previous flood maps showed that fewer than 900 properties were at risk during a 100-year flood.

Property owners in the expanded flood zone with federally backed mortgages will be required to buy flood insurance.  That news did not go over well with some property owners who attended a public meeting on Monday night.  Deputy City Engineer Alfred Mata, according to the Times, said:

“I can certainly sympathize — who wants to spend more money, especially those who have lived here a long time? …. But in the long run it’s in everyone’s interest to have these programs to protect property owners and the community at large.”

This year, new barriers have been installed and vegetation removed from the river channel to reduce the risk of flooding in Atwater Village and Elysian Valley.

Flood-prone areas shown in blue. Click for larger view

Flood-prone areas shown in blue. Click for larger view | L.A. Bureau of Engineering

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  1. Yes, the wash (river) has a purpose, and its not for Kayaking!!

    • What’s the issue with kayaking on a river during the season when the river does not flood? The people complaining are mostly those who say : “We don’t want “outsiders” in our neighborhood…” Some of those folks have actually lived a short period of time in the neighborhood but want to claim it’s “theirs.” Sorry but the river is for everyone.

      Most unfortunate are the claims that are commonly, blatantly and openly made in the name of race, such as “this is a low income Latino neighborhood and outsiders are not welcome.” These words exactly are spoken by some such as the deranged kayak protestor who is often found on the bike path. He recently also claimed that diseases such as Dengue and yellow fever were rampant in the river …(there has never been any single case of a local transmission of these diseases according to public health officials.)

      Conflating the need to create fair housing policies that support affordability with outright calls for housing discrimination runs afoul of the Fair Housing Act which is a key piece of civil rights legislation passed within weeks of Martin Luther Kings assassination. Let’s be honest some of those who claim neighborhood “ownership” have well paid jobs but also pride themselves as being associated in some oblique or direct way to the now nearly defunct Frogtown gang. Thankfully, almost the entire leadership is now behind bars thanks to a Federal Rico bust a while ago. Good riddance. Even so, the brother of the lifer in Pellican Bay (who was indicted for funneling more than $100,000 of drug money into his brother’s prison account) can be found to be threatening outsiders on online chats. Even though he is the only one not behind bars (hum…) he still can’t leave well enough alone.

      Sorry to rant beyond the “river might flood” tag line of this story but the real issue for many is the mix up between the forces of nature and the social and economic forces that seem as overwhelming as a flood to some…

  2. will we ever even get the rain needed to flood?

  3. See page 154 (link below) of The Los Angeles River by Blake Gumprecht to find out about the know-it-all every-man expert on floods because they’ve never seen one on the river.


  4. “On at least two occasions, the measured river flow has met or exceeded the flow of the mighty Mississippi River at its mouth”

    – a quote from the book, “Bridges of Downtown Los Angeles”

    This is just like living next to a volcano.
    Years and years quietly go by, then BAM!

    We can prettify and mess around with the LA River all we want as long as we remember it can and does, flood.

  5. Soooo when is this 100 year old flood happening?

  6. This is where I get to say I told you so. I have written here many times about this very danger from what has already been allowed to go in the river bed and what is further proposed. Everyone has insisted NO. Everyone has conceived this plan in complete denial, in an irresponsible and dangerously negligent vacuum. What already has been allowed to go on in the river bed and what is plan need is the CAUSE of this major flood. AS I have written here so many times, I would NEVER want to live in that area now that the flood control channel has been undermined.

    I LOVE the plans for the river — I also reject the plans for the riverbed itself 100% because of the real danger, a KNOWN danger there. A hundred-year storm is not something that might happen, it is something that absolutely will happen, every bit as certain as that a major earthquake will be happening.

    That entire area is a flood basin, I have said it for years. It was able to be so developed because of the flood control channel, the river and the channel it was built into to be able to handle a hundred-year storm. But with what already has been done in the riverbed, it no longer can handle a hundred-year storm. And the plans going forward will only make that worse.

    To undermine the flood control channel by slowing the water flow means to flood the entire basin, as the Corp of Engineers report says — under as much as 10 feet of water! This means death to people, literally, that’s what happens in floods of this magnitude — so those pushing this should take responsibility for those deaths. It means all the property and homes in the entire area destroyed, like the Ninth District was in New Orleans in the hurricane. This is not fantasy, this is a known, just like it is known a very major earthquake will be hitting.

    While the immediate impact of this report will mean mandatory flood insurance, that is nothing compared to the deaths that will ensue in a flood. Insurance will not prevent those deaths, nor will it stop the devastation of the area. Much will be lost that no monetary reimbursement can buy. And remember, this will happen in the midst of a hundred-year storm, when all the resources of the city, county, FEMA will be stretched beyond their limits already, they just will not be able to give the full response needed, there will be disasters all over that also need immediate attention.

    And when it all comes down, everyone will say: How could they ever have let this happen? Well, this is the time to address that issue — don’t let it happen. Be responsible, do not plan in denial.

    Things can be done around the river anyway, but do nothing to impede the flow of the water. Do all planned up top, add that lake that has been proposed, but don’t slow that water flow.

  7. I thought the Sepulveda Dam and the Sepulveda Flood Basin were created so there wouldn’t be flooding down river. If that’s no longer considered adequate, why don’t they correct the problem instead of just making people buy more insurance.

    • I walked the river during the last big rain storm, maybe a couple of years ago. The water was moving at a very fast rate and was high enough to cover the trees at certain spots.

      The water level was about 20 feet from the trials edge and looked like the Mississippi…no joke.

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