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The big storm system that hit California and Nevada on Friday, not only caused the regular headaches of power outages and road flooding but also resulted in the breaking of a levee wall in the small desert town of Fernley, Nevada.
The levee broke at about 4 am, flooding the town and damaging between 300 to 400 homes. About 1,500 people had to move from their homes. Luckily, no injuries have been reported and thanks to the quick action of officials everyone was evacuated safely. With a break in the storm, the levee has been repaired, and the water levels are starting to recede. Some people have even been allowed to return home.
Officials believe that the levee wall had already been weak thanks to burrowing (creating tunnels or holes) activity by gophers, and the rain just helped tip it over.
Levees are embankments (walls) built alongside rivers to protect against flooding. The difference between a levee and a dam is that levees only work to restrict water in times of floods, whereas dams also provide hydroelectric power. Also, levees are constructed mainly from the native soils of the area, whereas dams can be made from concrete, steel or wood. The Nevada levee channeled excess water from the Reno River to the agricultural community of Fallon about 60 miles away.
Sources: Edmonton Sun, thestar.com