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Californian Town Now ‘Officially An Island’ After Flooding

California Town Turned Island A town in California is “officially an island” after floodwaters inundated roads and left the community only accessible by boat. Guerneville was cut off after...

California Town Turned Island

A town in California is “officially an island” after floodwaters inundated roads and left the community only accessible by boat. Guerneville was cut off after the rain-swollen Russian River overflowed its banks during a two-day storm.

Residents of the town and more than 20 other wine country communities in Northern California were ordered to evacuate. Guerneville, a former logging community popular with tourists, has a population of about 4,500 people. The Russian River has repeatedly flooded following heavy downpours, but this marks the highest level that its waters have risen in more than 20 years.

Tom Orr, an actor, and writer who lives in Guerneville, went up into his loft as the muddy brown water nearly swallowed his ground-level property. The 48-year-old was among those was still unable to get into their house as the waters began to recede on Thursday.

He said: “I feel so helpless just sitting her and waiting before I can go back and start salvaging whatever I can.” Orr’s friend then came to canoe him to work at the Main Street Bistro, one of the few places in Guerneville that did not flood.

Sonoma County officials said they expected the communities of the town and nearby Monte Rio to be accessible by car on Friday. Residents were seen stood on the roofs of their flooded two-story houses in downtown Guerneville, watching neighbors and others paddling kayaks, canoes, and rowboats down watery streets.

Water was chest-high in some places. Sheriff Mark Essick said Thursday that three women had to be rescued in Sonoma County on Thursday. Two were on a boat without paddles, and one was rescued from a tree after driving her car into floodwaters.

About 2,000 homes, businesses, and other structures were flooded by water up to 8 feet deep. Michael Super, from Monte Rio, watched as water seeped into his home from five different every point, including doors and walls.

He grabbed his cat and dog and found higher ground. The 28-year-old said: “A lot of the furniture will have to go into the dump. We’ve seen oil and gas sheens and alcohol bottles so the water is unsafe.”

There have been no flood-related deaths or serious injuries as a result of the storm in Sonoma, but a father about 150 miles to the north in Ferndale died trying to reach three children. The unidentified man was trying to walk from a barn to his home through up to 5 feet of water on Wednesday when he was carried away by the fast-moving current.

Two adults and a child tried to rescue the man, but their tractor stalled in the water. Deputies in a boat then rescued them and the three children from the home.

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