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Kayakers take advantage of the rising waters on Downs Street on Saturday afternoon. / Laura Austin Photo

Tropical Storm Hilary brings heavy rain, causes road closures, flooding, canceled school classes

By LAURA AUSTIN News Review Staff Writer– Tropical Storm Hilary reached Ridgecrest and surrounding areas early  Saturday afternoon, August 19, bringing a deluge of rain, and causing flooding throughout the valley.

According to the National Weather Service, Hanford,  the region had set a record for rainfall Sunday, with some of Kern County’s desert areas reportedly receiving as much as 5 inches of rain. This historic rainfall brought nearly as much rain over the weekend as the Indian Wells Valley receives annually,  approximately 6.2 inches.

A motorist maneuvers through flooded China Lake Blvd. / Laura Austin Photo

The storm, with its flooding conditions, required that school classes be canceled. There were road closures throughout the valley.

Sporadic thunderstorms were reported in the higher elevations of the valley, with cloud bursts causing massive downpours.

In a low-lying area on the north side of Ridgecrest in the neighborhood of 300 block of Felspar Ave, families enjoy lakefront property for a time. / Laura Austin Photo
Flooding on Downs Street. / Laura Austin Photo

As of Monday, 33 county roads were closed to the public, according to Kern County Public Works. Nearly 200 customers in Kern County were experiencing a power outage.

Ridgecrest and Tehachapi were the most affected by the storm in the eastern Kern desert and mountain communities.

The first rainfall from the storm began to fall in the Inyokern, Ridgecrest, and the Tehachapi Valley on Saturday afternoon.

The City of Ridgecrest declared a state of emergency on Aug. 20 due to Tropical Storm Hilary.

The Kerr McGee Center was open for displaced people who needed shelter, and the Salvation Army, and city services were available to help those in need.

Mayor Eric Bruen made the announcement via video early Sunday afternoon that the city was marshaling forces to deal with the weather crisis.

Ridgecrest and Kern County officials joined forces and mobilized to deal with the massive storm.