Thursday, 18 April, 2019

California weather: SEVERE winter weather sparks STATE OF EMERGENCY declaration

Tony Harley middle helps a friend evacuate Tuesday The Russian River is still rising as some in Sonoma County are told to evacuate
Leonard Rios | 04 March, 2019, 04:10

Two California towns have been turned into islands as a river swollen to its highest level in a quarter century flooded some 2,000 homes and forced evacuations.

Residents got around flooded towns in kayaks, an indication that not everyone evacuated.

Aerial photos show Guerneville, California, completely cut off by floodwaters as the Russian River crested on Wednesday.

Around 3,600 people have been evacuated, but roads have become impassable and the area is now only accessible by boat, according to reports.

Multiple school closures were announced Wednesday in Sonoma County, including the Alexander Valley, Forestville, Guerneville, Geyserville, Harmony and Monte Rio districts.

A Northern California river that surged over its banks after days of rain has flooded some 2000 homes, businesses and other buildings. Residents can be seen kayaking and canoeing along the flooding roadways, passing submerged vehicles.

The river was expected to fall below flood stage at the end of Thursday.

Click through the slideshow above for an aerial perspective of the event.

The nearby city of Santa Rosa got 4.64 inches (11.8 cm) of rain, smashing its previous record of 1.56 inches (4 cm) in a single storm, according to National Weather Service (NWS) data.

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While no flood-related serious injuries or deaths were reported in Sonoma County, a man about 150 miles (330 kilometres) to the north in Ferndale died trying to reach three children. "Too many people are driving into water", he said. Those trapped by deeper water were taken to safety in boats.

The governor's office said the emergency proclamation was issued for the counties of Amador, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma to help communities respond to and recover from unsafe flooding, mudslides and damage to critical infrastructure. Officials said they are in the planning stages to allow people to re-enter as early as Friday, Dugan said.

This interactive map shows the river's 100-year flood plain in Guerneville. Jeff Bridges, a hotel co-owner who is president of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce, spent Wednesday canoeing through town and gave a ride to a couple and their dog who were stranded in a low-lying apartment.

"(The proclamation) is not just a sign that we have insufficient resources or we're overwhelmed, but instead that we recognize the true potential worst-case scenario here and we want to make sure that we're mobilized effectively and fully to deal with that threat", Godley said.

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

"We have a lot of buildings that have taken in water and we will be inspecting them to determine if they are safe", she said.

Since Tuesday, the recent Pacific storm has brought over 132 millimetres of rain to the already saturated parts of Northern California.

Orr moved to Guerneville about five years ago, driven out of San Francisco by rising costs.

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