Sonoma County

Sonoma County Grapples With Illegal Dumping in Flooded Areas

Flood victims along the Russian River are seeing trailer loads of trash appear overnight as some people who are not flood victims try to piggyback on the county’s free curbside debris removal.

In Guerneville, which was hit hardest by flooding late last month, the illegal dumping is costing the county and slowing the cleanup.

Sonoma County worker Kara Mack says in the beginning, it was just flood debris. But as time has passed since the water receded, more stuff keeps coming.

"I can't speculate where it comes from," Mack said.

The feds will reimburse for flood damage debris, but the stuff that isn’t related to the flood will cost the county to remove.

"It could be tens of thousands of dollars easily, based on the piles that we’re seeing," county Supervisor Lynda Hopkins said.

Hopkins said the illegally dumped trash is an environmental health hazard, and cleanup crews say it’s slowing down their work.

Flood victims such as the owner of the West Sonoma Inn and Spa call it heartbreaking that some people would take advantage of the program.

"They should have some civility, some heart not to make us suffer even more," Naveed Haneef said.

Cleanup crews said their goal is to have everything picked up by the end of the week.

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