Amid south Valley’s massive flooding, where’s Gavin?

California’s Governor has rarely shied away from disaster sites in Central California. He has yet to make an appearance in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

Amid a week of major flooding in the San Joaquin Valley due to intense storms, a question is creeping up: where’s Gavin?

Last week Gov. Gavin Newsom wrapped up his State of the State tour around California, which bypassed the Central Valley. 


Driving the news: Newsom’s State of the State tour took him to Sacramento, San Quentin State Prison, Downey and San Diego. 

  • In the meantime, flooding in parts of the Central Valley has been so catastrophic that the outskirts of the old Tulare Lake, which was drained over 100 years ago, has reformed, covering farmland and threatening homes. 
  • The Sun reached out to Newsom’s office to see if the governor is planning to visit the Central Valley to assess the situation but did not receive a response. 

State of play: While Newsom has skirted around the Valley, California’s top water chief made a pass through the southern Central Valley last week to survey some of the damage. 

  • California Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth visited the area in part to determine if state intervention is necessary. 

What we’re watching: So far the response to the flooding has been a county-by-county effort – as the state-run Central Valley Flood Protection board does not cover the Tulare and Kings subbasins. 

  • Nemeth’s visit to the Valley could signal changing tides in the response as local communities have asked her department for assistance. 

What they’re saying: Nemeth told KVPR that the re-formation of Tulare Lake has brought the state’s intervention to the forefront. 

  • “There’s obviously communities and agriculture also in the lakebed,” Nemeth told KVPR. “So our task ahead is to support the county – all counties – in understanding what’s coming at them.” 
  • Nemeth told SJV Water that the state believes the Central Valley Flood Protection board has the power to identify appropriate places for flood waters with the extensive flooding and could step in if communities continue to be threatened.
  • The Sun reached out to Newsom’s office for comment but did not receive a response before publication.
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