Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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31 Years Later, and Not Much's Changed

In February 1986, a section of levee along the south bank of the Yuba River where it joins the Feather River at Marysville collapsed, flooding the towns of Linda and Olivehurst to the south. I found this KCRA archive news footage that starts out with a helicopter shot of the Peach Tree Mall shopping center that was badly flooded. (Furthermore, because the mall is built on the site of an old duck pond, even when the levee was repaired, the water wouldn't go away and had to be pumped out, so the mall sat under water for more than a month.) This mall was the home of the comic book store where I first hung around, then ended up working in, for several years, and whose co-owner/manager, Edward Luena, was a proximate cause of me going to the 1984 Worldcon in Anaheim, which was an early step down the path that led me to co-chairing the 2002 Worldcon. The store was also the site of the Official MythAdventures Fan Club that I co-founded and ran for five years. (The club's supplies, like that of the comic store, were mostly destroyed by soaking in muddy flood water for a month.)

After the flood water was pumped out, I, the store owner, and several of our regular customers helped salvage what we could. I remember we drove a car into the mall to provide light in the soggy store as we went through the muck and recovered some of the stuff (not much, but some). The south end of the mall was rebuilt and we moved in to a new location, but the mall never really recovered. The anchor stores, which had been losing money anyway, choose to forfeit the rest of their leases rather than come back. Those of us who did return never made much money.

The hotel in which Lisa and I stayed before visiting my mother is just down the street from the site of what is now optimistically called the Feather River Center. On our way out on Sunday morning, we drove by the old mall.

Peach Tree Mall 31 Years After the Flood

This is the entrance through which I normally entered the mall on my way to the original store site. Most of the mall is now completely boarded up, although the south end (which was originally a K-Mart and still has some directional signs recognizably in the K-Mart 1970s style) has been rebuilt into a FoodMaxx warehouse grocery store. Otherwise, the entire complex appears derelict.

I was surprised that a Wal-Mart was built across the road from the mall on what had been as I recall greenfield property. Given the hopeless state of the mall, it seems to me it would have been more sensible to simply tear down the mall and build the Wal-Mart there. Presumably there's a story there about which I know nothing. The entire area is below the level of the river, so I don't think that has anything to do with it. (The bed of the river is above the land around this area, which is a legacy of the gold rush hydraulic mining washing so much debris downriver. Without the high levees, the entire Marysville-Yuba City area would be under water.)

I spent five important years in that mall and it was a significant part of my life, but some things are gone and will never come back.

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