Rising to Help During Floods

corpsmembers working on levee repair

CCC Corpsmembers filling and placing sandbags along Deer Creek near Sloughhouse.

As flood waters washed across much of California, the young adults of the California Conservation Corps got busy cleaning up the mud, shoring up levees, and restoring confidence for many that they are not alone in their fight to stop what nature was about to deliver.

Corpsmembers slogged through the rain, mud, and wind to help their neighbors during the New Year’s atmospheric river storm.

“It’s tiring, carrying sandbags back and forth all day. I’ve already taken 17,000 steps today, but we’re helping,” said Sacramento Corpsmember Nehemiah Domino.

He’s among more than 70 Corpsmembers who filled and hauled sandbags across nearly 4,000 feet of rain-soaked levee in Sacramento County. Their work of shoring up an erosion damaged levee will help protect agricultural lands, horses, and homes.


“I’m happy to be here to save my state and city from floods,” said Domino. “We’re working to protect it as much as we can. This is why I joined the CCC.”

Even though CCC Corpsmembers are 18- to 25 years old (military veterans can enroll up to age 29), the work can be difficult, and the conditions plain miserable. It’s a paid, one-year, commitment to natural resource and emergency response work. And while they do get paid a monthly stipends, Corpsmembers take pride in making a difference for California, one sandbag at a time.

“It’s a lot of work and we’re working long hours,” said Fresno Corpsmember Sabryna Robles. “The floods are happening and people are saying their garages are flooding, their homes are flooded, it’s kind of nice to help people who need it.”

Sabryna and her crew were assisting residents in Santa Clara County by filling 3,000 sandbags at a local fire station.

“Community members come in and pick up the sandbags. We’ve already done about five pallets in just our first few hours.”

Working hard, collaborating with others, and caring about the community are just a few of the many skills and attributes young adults can foster and grow in the CCC. On top of the life and jobs skills, they’re paid a monthly stipend and can earn scholarships. In this storm ravaged time of year, they’re more focused on making a difference.

“I know I would like some help like this if I need it,” Sabryna said. “I live in Fresno, so it doesn’t flood and hardly rains there. Putting myself in other people’s shoes, it feels nice to help.”