Receding waters spell relief for flooded Northern California towns

Receding waters spell relief for flooded Northern California towns

Receding waters spell relief for flooded Northern California towns

Flood waters have inundated a California town north of San Francisco and that the community is now only accessible by boats after a rain-swollen river overflowed its banks.

Shortly before 11 a.m. PST, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook that Guerneville, California, was "officially an island".

Dozens of other mudslides were reported in Sonoma and Plumas counties Tuesday, blocking traffic on Highways 1, 116, 128 and 70, Accuweather.com reported.

The Russian River in Sonoma County crested at more than 46 feet (14 metres) Wednesday night, flooding about 2,000 buildings.

"I've never seen it rain so hard", said Brian Gipson, director of marketing at the Farmhouse Inn hotel near Guerneville, which evacuated guests after water flooded its auto park a third of a mile from the river.

The river was one of several in Northern California that was engorged by days of rain from western USA storms that also dumped heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada, throughout the Pacific Northwest and into Montana, where Gov. Steve Bullock signed an emergency order to help keep up the supply of heating fuel amid frigid temperatures.

The storm is expected to continue until Friday, bringing with it rain, wind and snow, making travel into the Sierra Nevada mountain range risky.

Passenger train service is unlikely to resume until at least Friday, railway officials said Wednesday.

Their homes surrounded by flood waters, they have been moving around on kayaks and canoes. Residents are under an mandatory evacuation, and roads leading to and from the town are impassable.

Reached by telephone Wednesday in Guerneville north of San Francisco, Jeff Bridges said Wednesday he is staying on the second-floor of his house because the first floor is swamped by 7 feet (2.1 meters) of water.


"The roadways leading into the town along the river and across the river have been cut off by the rising floodwaters", Sonoma County emergency manager Chris Godley said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday declared a state of emergency in five additional counties, expanding an original order of 21 counties last week, due to relentless storms that have hit California since the new year.

The Russian River is expected to start receding Thursday night.

"We're all pretty shaken up about what happened and thinking what could we have done differently", Alexandre said.

A mudslide Tuesday near Monte Rio trapped a man and a woman before they were rescued, messy but unharmed.

Elsewhere in the area, several people had to be rescued from cars stranded while motorists tried to drive through flooded roads.

"I could not afford to buy flood insurance", she said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Carolina Walbrun said the river expanded from 10 feet to 34 feet over a period of two days.

"The store has gone through all the floods but this is a lot more than we expected", Reid said.

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