By Jennifer McGraw

STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) — A community is praising two farmers and firefighters for their help fixing a levee breach.

The break happened earlier this week, and it could’ve been catastrophic for hundreds of homes.

“It would’ve been so big if they hadn’t stopped it right away,” said Tony Dutra who is a dairy farmer.

Monday night’s breach could’ve caused major flooding and serious damage.

“You would’ve had to move out the cows and a lot of times it stresses the cows and a lot of them will die,” he said.

Luckily his nephew and fellow farmer spotted the breach just as night fell.

Video captured them using their own tractors to patch the break before flood waters could inundate fields and homes.

“They did some incredible things,” said Rex Osborn, spokesman for the Office of Emergency Services.

He believes those immediate repairs helped save 300 homes in the rural area south of Manteca.

“If they had not been there it would’ve been a major breach that we would not have been able to recover from. That’s why we activated the evacuation and they did some great work and they’re doing every day,” he said.

With the San Joaquin River above the danger stage and rising, more problems are continuing to pop up.

The California Conservation Corp now working to sandbag boils flooding this almond field just east of the levee break.

“What’s going to happen, we don’t know. Can’t predict it, but we are prepared for anything that may come along,” Osborn said.

As long as river levels remain high, these farmers will continue to patrol levees around the clock.

With millions of dollars of agriculture at stake, these farmers know they’re not just protecting homes, but their own livelihood.


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