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'Our World Is Getting Smaller': NPR



A playground sits under water in a flooded neighborhood in Guerneville, California.
                
                
                    
                    Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
                    
                

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A playground sits under water in a flooded neighborhood in Guerneville, California.

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Guerneville, Calif., "Is officially an island," the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said after heavy rains caused the Russian River to rise nearly 14 feet above its flood stage Wednesday night.

The Guerneville flood stage in Guerneville is 32 feet. However, it has reached nearly 46 feet Wednesday night, and National Weather Service predicted major flood conditions will continue Thursday, because it will take time for all that water to recede

As of Thursday morning, the waters were finally beginning to come down and there were no calls for emergency rescues in Guerneville overnight, the sheriff's office said.

Rescue workers evacuate residents on a truck as they drive through a flooded neighborhood in Forestville, California.
                
                
                    
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Rescue workers evacuate residents on a truck as they drive through a flooded neighborhood in Forestville, California

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The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday afternoon, when the river was first predicted to overtake its flood stage. By Wednesday morning, the department said, "Guerneville is land locked, you can not get in or out of town, all roads leading to the community are flooded."

NWS said, announcing preliminary results Thursday morning. The Herman, left, and Lea Herman, right, embrace them as they look at a flooded section of highway 116 in Guerneville, Molly Peterson reports. , California.
                
                
                    
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Ari Herman, left, and Lea Herman, right, embrace them as they look at a flooded section of highway 116 in Guerneville, Calif. [196590022] Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
            
        

Near a bridge crossing the Russian River, Peterson spoke to local resident Darryl Cooper, who braved mud and high water to launch a boat from his truck. Cooper was on a mission, he told Peterson.

"I'm gonna deliver two packs of smokes to my friend who's on an island right now – in his house," Cooper said.

A neighborhood sits in the floodwaters near Guerneville, California.
                
                
                    
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A neighborhood sits in floodwater near Guerneville, California.

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Residents used anything they could find to get out and about and reach people who were stranded. As roadways became streams and rivers, cars were replaced by paddleboards, canoes, rowboats – and in at least one case, an oar-driven dumpster . few feet short of the earlier devastating floods that hit Guerneville, some 75 miles northwest of San Francisco.

The Russian River's highest recorded level was measured at 48.56 feet during a catastrophic flood in February 1986. Torrential rain from the winter storms also brought dangerously high water as recently as 2006. The current floods are by far the worst in the past five years ; Rich Willson paddles through the miniature golf course in Guerneville, California.

                
                
                    
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Rich Willson paddles through the miniature golf course in Guerneville, California

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The National Weather Service categorizes any floods above 45 feet as "disastrous" for Guerneville, predicting almost all of its downtown would flood at that height.

In Monte Rio, Fire Chief Steve Baxman told Peterson that crews have been working on clear roads – but new landslides keep closing new stretches

"Our world is getting smaller," Baxman said.

A view of a flooded vineyard near Guerneville, California. The Russian River has been rising above the flood stage and is expected to continue to rise to record levels and inundate the city of Guerneville.
                
                
                    
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A view of a flooded vineyard near Guerneville, California.

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Guerneville's downtown is lined with shops and restaurants; Dozens of wineries are a short drive away. But flood warnings prompted officials to urge some 4,000 people to seek a higher ground in Guerneville and Monte Rio; Similar calls went out to the nearby community of Yolo, where Cache Creek's waters flowed over a leve Wednesday. Yolo County officials lifted an evacuation order late last night.

Highway 116 cuts through a flooded neighborhood in Guerneville, California.
                
                
                    
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Highway 116 cuts through a flooded neighborhood in Guerneville, California.

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Long sections of Highway 116 were closed, either covered by floodwaters or cut off by mudslides. While Guerneville seemed to have the worst rain and floods, other cities also faced damaging water and evacuations, as the Russian, Napa, Sacramento and other rivers topped their flood stages

"Rivers and creeks continued to rise in Napa Wednesday," KQED reports. "The Napa River had risen to about 18 feet by midday Wednesday, according to a bridge marking."

As the storm brought rain and snow to Northern California, an avalanche in the Sierra Nevada range forced two Amtrak trains to stop in their tracks and the reverse direction, The Associated Press reports.

The state highway patrol used a helicopter to take a woman out of the small city's downtown Wednesday, in what was called a medical emergency. The National Guard also sent help to rescue teams in Guerneville and Monte Rio, in the form of six high-water vehicles

Mailboxes sit underwater in a flooded neighborhood in Forestville, California.
                
                
                    
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Mailboxes sit underwater in a flooded neighborhood on Forestville, California.
            
        

There is no rain in Friday's forecast for Guerneville, but there is a chance of heavy rainfall Friday night, the National Weather Service said.

Residents of Guerneville and other affected communities must now wait for the water to go away, so they can clean the mud and take stock of the damage.


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