Damage from the storm on March 6 that brought rare flooding to downtown Sonora prompted city officials to declare a local state of emergency Monday.

The Sonora City Council voted unanimously to approve a proclamation formally declaring the emergency, which was done in hopes of recouping some of the repair costs that are expected to exceed $200,000.

“Should there be a governor’s declaration of a disaster, then that would make the city eligible for potential reimbursement for some of our expenses,” said City Administrator Tim Miller.

A large sinkhole that opened on Saturday in the parking lot behind Bank of America at Stockton Road and South Green Street was added to the city’s resolution as one of the projects related to the storm, though the estimated cost for repairs has yet to be determined.

The only other damage the city has identified was a failed storm drain in the Sunrise Hills area north of Morning Star Drive. That project is expected to cost about $200,000, up from the original estimate of $100,000.

Thunderstorms on March 6 brought several inches of hail followed by rain over a three-hour period and caused drainage and flooding issues to areas within the three-square-mil city limits.

The sudden downpour of hail clogged storm drains, which contributed to the flooding that got into some businesses and homes in the downtown area.

City Engineer Jerry Fuccillo called it the highest volume of flooding he’s seen in the city since he started working as the city engineer about 40 years ago.

Several council members said there was little the city could have done to prevent the flooding.

Councilman Matt Hawkins said some townhouses flooded due to a nearby drain that got clogged by the hail and debris it brought with it.

“It just came down so quick there was nothing we could do,” he said.

Miller said the U.S. Small Business Administration could provide low-interest loans if at least 25 residents or businesses suffered uninsured losses that reduced value of their property by 40 percent or more, though he didn’t believe the city would meet the threshold.

Rick Martin, of Sonora, asked what the city was going to do about the extensive flooding at Morning Star Drive and Morning Star Court that submerged some vehicles in water.

Miller said the city’s Public Works Department will evaluate the area and see if repairs need to be made, but the sinkhole and failed storm drain were more urgent.

The sinkhole collapsed into the city’s old main drain system, parts of which date back to the late 1800s.

Also at the meeting on Monday, the city’s police and fire departments handed out their employees of the year awards.

The Sonora Fire Department honored Tyler Piche, Patrick Kerrigan, Kelley Figley, and Joel Teran, while the Sonora Police Department honored Scott Mallon, Dennis Townsend, Naomi Kneip, Ashley Kennedy, and Kurt Bryant.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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