By Carlos Correa

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Local farmers are still cleaning up the mess left behind by heavy rain that has already destroyed much of their crops.

The county estimates the damage in the millions.

When heavy rain moved into Northern California earlier this year, farmer Bill Stokes knew he was going to have a big problem on his hands.

“We’re seeing damage in our grain crops, hay crops; alfalfa is probably the most severe,” he said.

Although some of the vines at the stokes family farm seem to be okay, massive flooding has caused damage to several cherry trees and in a farm nearby, most of the almond trees are still submerged in water.

“It’s very sad. It’s devastating for all the growers and neighboring farmers around me, we are all in the same boat together,” said Stokes.

Heavy rain brought high levels of water to creeks and rivers and the melting snow is causing even more concern as more flooding is expected. Farmers say they are working together to come up with ideas to prevent future damage.

“We’re monitoring our levee systems daily. We watch the flows constantly, you know even long term fixes that we need to have, not short term fixes,” he said.

Leaders with the San Joaquin office of emergency services say the current damage doesn’t compare to the flooding farmers experienced twenty years ago.

“In 1997, we saw a lot more, we actually had 24 levee breaks along the San Joaquin and we had several along Stanislaus County and there is about 8 or so in the Mokelumne River, in addition in the delta there was a lot of damage,” said Michael Cockrell, director of San Joaquin Office of Emergency Services.

The agriculture commissioner estimates damage to fields so far in 2017’s winter rains to be around $13 million. However, some farmers won’t know exactly what they loss until after they harvest in the fall.

“The USDA, the United States Department of Agriculture and the small business administration have both declared San Joaquin County agriculture loss damage so, these farmers and ranchers can call in or apply to see if there is any assistance for them,” he said.

Grapes that remain under water should be okay, but farmers say it all depends on how long the water stays there.

The county expects to see high levels of water in river ways and into the delta until July, maybe even August.


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