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Should You Stay or Go?

The waters of California’s Merced River had been rising steadily for days. A few more inches higher, and the river would breach its levees. Local volunteer firefighters tried to keep residents up to date on how close the water was getting, but residents near the levees were constantly reporting new leaks as fountains of muddy water bubbled out and flooded pastures or farms.

Many of the dairy and hog farms near the river were flooded long before the water got to critical levels. Farmers tried relocating their livestock, but the sheer number of animals who needed to be protected was overwhelming and growing rapidly. In ...

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