In March 2019, the Reno Gazette Journal included a story saying:
“It’s a failure,” Lemmon Valley resident Denise Ross told the Reno City County on Wednesday. “The residents are terrified they are going to lose their animals, they’re going to lose their homes, and even perhaps lose their lives.”
The remainder of the story discussed how Washoe County Engineer Dwayne Smith was concerned people were being misinformed and overly concerned about the risks of flooding. But the variable that was missing from the County Engineer’s formula was trauma from surviving a major flooding event in 2017, something Denise Ross and the residents of Lemmon Valley were all too familiar with.
The community of Lemmon Valley, 10 miles north of Reno, sits at the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in a closed basin, with seasonal runoff being a regular spring event.
“It happened in 2017, when a string of nine rainstorms caused millions of dollars in damage and wrecked dozens of homes. Victims had to live in trailers, bought porta-potties to replace their damaged bathrooms and live still in houses with sinking foundations and walls separated from ceilings. The floodwater had nowhere to go, and much of it still stands today.”Fair Warning in November 2020.
What was even more disheartening was what Denise Ross, Tammy Holt, and the rest of the residents discovered about not only how much water flooded their homes in 2017, but what the source of the water was.
In working with Thriving Earth Exchange to better understand how to control the flooding to the communities around Swan Lake in Lemmon Valley, Lemmon Valley residents finally had two dramatic successes.
First, Tammy Holt Still and Denise Ross of Lemmon Valley Swan Lake Recovery Committee in Nevada worked to research and protest a planned housing development in the watershed. Guess what happened? It was rejected by the Washoe County Planning Commission!”
Secondly, in June 2019, Washoe District court jury unanimously found the city of Reno liable for inverse condemnation in a class action lawsuit against the city over flooding that occurred in 2017. The class action lawsuit involved 56 plaintiffs. It had been determined the Swan Lake Basin flooded nearby homes in 2017 after the city of Reno pumped or diverted excess stormwater into Swan Lake Basin.
The work continues as Denise Ross and Tammy Holt lead Lemmon Valley Flood Relief/Assistance to fight for awareness of the perils of over-development and poor flooding mitigation plans by their city and state. As they attend meetings and push for change, Tammy Holt leaves this thought behind each time, “The water is still there, I’m still here.”
Written by Michele Gielis
Flooding, Water Contamination
Fighting Industrial Contamination, Halting Bad Development
501c3 Tax Deductible