Northern California river floods 2,000 buildings

Associated Press

Guerneville, Calif. — A Northern California river that surged over its banks after days of rain has flooded some 2,000 homes, businesses and other buildings.

Sonoma County spokeswoman Briana Khan said the Russian River has submerged areas of Guerneville and neighboring Monte Rio, which are described as “islands” because of flooded roads.

The river in California’s wine country has hit its highest level in about 25 years. Some places were standing in 8 feet ) of water and residents were using kayaks and boats instead of cars.

The river is expected to return to its banks late Thursday night.

It rose because of storms that also dumped rain and heavy snow in several states in the western U.S.

A resident of a Northern California town isolated by floodwaters who stayed behind instead of heeding an evacuation order says he and many in the community are well prepared to ride out the storm.

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

He said the town has experienced several floods and people stack up on food and water and hanker down until the water recedes.

Bridges said “everyone just pulls together.”

Bridges co-owns a hotel and says he plans to canoe through the town to assess the damage from the storms that soaked Northern California and also dumped heavy snow in western U.S. states including Nevada, Washington state and Oregon.

Sonoma County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum estimates that only half of about 4,000 people told to evacuate Guerneville and two dozen other towns actually left their homes.