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Gov. Newsom declares emergency in North Bay flooding

Flood warning extended across the region

Flooding in Guerneville.
Floodwaters surround the Pee Wee Golf and Arcade in Guerneville February 15, 2019.
Photo by AP Photo/Josh Edelson

Update, Wednesday 2 p.m.: Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in five additional California counties on Wednesday, including Sonoma County, mandating state assistance to regions besieged by flooding and storms.

The state previously declared storm-related disasters in 21 counties across the state, including Napa and San Mateo counties.

The new declaration reads in part, “Multiple rivers are at or expected to exceed flood stages, including the Russian River in Sonoma County, which has threatened homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.”

The state promises “procurement of materials, goods, and services necessary to quickly assist with the response to and recovery from the impacts of the storms.”

The National Weather Service predicts more rain in the Bay Area beginning Friday night and possibly through Sunday.

A flood warning is in place in Sonoma County at least until Friday morning. NWS warns:

A Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring. All interested parties should take necessary precautions immediately. [...]

Some locations that will experience flooding include Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Sebastopol, Larkfield-Wikiup, Roseland, South Santa Rosa Cdp, Forestville, Guerneville, Graton, Monte Rio, Hawkeye Raws, Santa Rosa Raws and Occidental.

[...] The Russian River crested late Wednesday evening and stream gages indicate water levels have begun to recede. Flooding is expected to continue today and through tonight before falling below flood stage Friday morning.


Update, Wednesday, 10 a.m.: Access to the towns of Guerneville and Monte Rio have been cut off by flooding from the Russian River. Highway 37, a major commute route connecting Sonoma, Marin and Solano counties, has also been closed.

“It’s awful out here. We’re an island,” Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman explained to the Press Democrat.

Sixteen Sonoma County school districts have closed due to flooding. And an estimated 3,000 people along the Russian River were without power as of Wednesday morning.


Update, Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.: The Russian River already reached flooding stages.

Sonoma County officials ordered the following communities under mandatory evacuation: Bailhache, Chianti, Guerneville, Guernewood, Guernewood Park, Hacienda, Jenner, Jimtown, Korbel, Lytton, Northwood, Northwood Lodge, Rio Dell, Rolands, Sheridan, Duncans Mills, El Bonita, Mirabel Heights, Mirabel Park, Monte Rio, Montesano, Summerhome Park, Vacation Beach, and Wilson Grove.

Shelters:

  • Sebastopol Center for the Arts (282 S High Street, Sebastopol)
  • Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Grace Pavilion (1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa)

A free shuttle will run from the Guerneville Veterans War Memorial (16320 Church).


Sonoma County officials are encouraging residents along the Russian River to evacuate as expected rainfall this evening could cause the river to swell. Residents should be prepared to move to higher ground.

The Russian River is anticipated to hit flood levels (32 inches) at around 6 p.m. in Guerneville, and expected to crest at 45.9 feet Wednesday at 11 p.m., according to the Sonoma County Sheriff.

“At 46 feet, much of downtown Guerneville would flood,” reports Press Democrat, adding, “County officials...are considering whether to issue mandatory evacuation notices depending on the afternoon forecast and further runoff calculations.”

Road closures

A slew of road closures are also in effect throughout the North Bay area, including streets in Geyserville, Guerneville, Kenwood, Santa Rosa, and more. Drivers are strongly encouraged not to drive through flooded streets, which could lead to drowning and death.

Here’s an updated list of road closures in Sonoma County.

This flood inundation map shows area affected by floods and road closures.

Where to find sandbags

Pre-filled sandbags are also available for free for all residents at the City Municipal Services Center in Santa Rosa (located at 55 Stony Point Road), the Forestville Fire station (6487 Mirabel Road), at the park and ride past Safeway in Guerneville (16550 Main), at the intersection of Main Street and Fir Road by the tennis courts in Monte Rio, at the Shamrock Building Materials in Cotati (8150 Gravenstein Highway), and Home Depot in Windsor (6280 Hembree Lane).

Here’s Sonoma County’s official list of sandbag pickup locations.

Most local hardware stores sell sandbags for $3. Check with your local hardware store to see if they have sandbags available.

What’s causing this?

Rain, of course. This all part of the atmospheric river currently battering most of the Bay Area, causing mudslides and flash flooding, which is expected to last until at least Wednesday.

“As the storm track centers on Northern California through midweek, a general 4-8 inches of rain will fall along the northern coast of California and lower west-facing slopes of the Sierra Nevada through Wednesday,” notes AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.