California town flooded, turns to island

Fiona Whitver, Guest Writer


On the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 27, the small river town of Guerneville, was unexpectedly transformed into its own island due to extreme flooding. Sonoma County officials released a statement expressing that the community had been completely inaccessible with an exception to traveling by watercraft. Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department describes this sudden crisis as “[Guerneville] is officially an island.”

Due to such drastic circumstances, a required evacuation was enforced midday Tuesday, with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office anticipating high flooding levels, but failing to realize the magnitude of the dangerous weather that would transform the area. Not only did these extreme weather conditions place an immense impact on the city of Guerneville, but,  the Russian, Sacramento, and Napa rivers also exceeded their flood stages as well, causing 24 nearby towns to evacuate. Local news station KQED reported, “Napa River had risen about 18 feet by noon Wednesday, according to a bridge marking.”


Residents struggling through these conditions have reportedly been using any means necessary to rescue those who were stranded. Locals were seen replacing cars with everything from canoes and rowboats to paddleboards, just to travel through the streets that became rivers overnight. Resident Darryl Cooper spoke to KQED and stated, “I’m on a mission. I’m gonna deliver two packs of smokes to my friend who’s on an island right now – in his house, and I’ve got canoes. We’re gonna canoe down River Boulevard.”


The Russian River surrounding Guerneville has undoubtedly experienced flooding at high levels,

but previous conditions do not compare to the dangerous record-breaking rising water levels that

occurred this week. Wednesday morning, the department released a statement that said, “You

cannot get into or out of town. All roads leading to the community are flooded.” With these

historic statistics, the current floods have officially been declared the worst in the past five


With vineyards now completely submerged underwater, levees overflowing, and state highways

being forced into closure, this is only the beginning for Northern Californians. The National

Weather Service forecast heavy rainfall on Friday, Mar. 1, and continuous showers through Wednesday, Mar. 6. Residents of Guerneville and its surrounding communities are faced with

only one option in this natural disaster: wait for the water to drain, and then proceed in a massive

cleaning of the damage. Until then, residents will be striving to make it through these next few

weeks, and crews will be working to ensure that the communities remain safe with the horrific

weather being sent their way. Seemingly, California’s hands are tied and not much can be

done until further notice.

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