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Kernville property owners still buried in flood debris

Beverly Demetriff, co-owner of Frandy's Campground in Kernville, says the scope and cost of the cleanup has been "astronomical."
debris at frandy's campground in kernville
Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-24 21:16:09-04

KERNVILLE, Calif. (KERO) — There has been flooding all over Kern County due to recent rains, but one area that saw the worst of it was Kernville, and business owners there are still trying to pick up the pieces.

Frandy Park Campground in Kernville is located directly off the Kern River. At the height of the recent flooding, Beverly Demetriff, campground manager and co-owner of Frandy's, estimates that three-quarters of the campground was underwater.

"Massive amounts of debris that came down when the water rose, and it takes a lot to clean it up. The cleanup has been astronomical," said Demetriff.

According to Demetriff, the flooding did an incredible amount of damage to the campground property.

"It took out yards and yards of dirt. We are going to have to bring in dirt. We just don't have enough to begin to cover all the river rock that's left behind from the flood taking it away. We'll have to replace probably a dozen or more trees. All of our irrigation lines are gone," said Demetriff. "It has been a financial hit too, because we aren't able to be open right now. I've had to call and cancel so many people."

Demetriff says her biggest problem is disposing of the debris. When she took it to the local dump, she said she was told the dump fees were around $70 for 2 tons of waste, and she estimates that there are over 70 tons of debris on her land.

"So I'll be honest, I haven't come up with a feasible option yet, 'cause I cannot afford it, especially without any income coming in," said Demetriff.

According to Demetriff, returning her property to its original state will take a solution she hasn't hit on yet.

"This is usually beautiful down here. These are actually some of my most popular campsites. It's nice smooth dirt," Demetriff says as she looks at what the water left behind. "I'm not even sure how we are going to end up tackling some of this."

Demetriff says the debris removal has so far been an extremely time consuming process.

"And everything gets so intertwined, and we are having such a difficult time. Like this branch here. We have to work to get that loose, and then we work to get that loose…" Demetriff demonstrates.

Frandy's staff aren't the only ones working to clean up the campground.

"We have a very tight-knit community and we help each other, so we have gotten some volunteers," said Demetriff, adding that the volunteers, including local resident Tony Julio, have helped her cut loose branches, remove debris, and smooth over dirt.

"This is my town," said Julio. "I've lived here since I was 16 years old. I love this place, and when we have something like this, somebody's got to pitch in to do something. Can't get any help anywhere else. We've tried."

Indeed, Demetriff says she has reached out to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's office, the Kern County Fire Department, and the Forest Service. She says they are all sympathetic, but none have given any help.

"This is a disaster, I'm sorry," said Julio. "This is how she makes a living. This is how she pays taxes to this county."

Despite this, Demetriff says she is slowly making progress, and hopes to open more of the campground in the coming weeks and months.

"I'm hoping to have two-thirds of the campground open by Memorial Day," said Demetriff, adding that she plans to attend the next Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting in the hope that she can persuade them to waive the dump fees for property owners like herself who were swamped by debris in the flooding.