It’s not exactly Atlantis, but this week, the Sonoma County town of Guerneville ranked pretty darn close to being the mythical underwater lost city.
Water lapped up the building wall at Pee Wee Golf and Arcade on Drake Street, where massive flooding swirled around the store’s closed doors.
Patio chairs, picnic tables and BBQs sat, or nearly swam, in people’s front yards. Cars and trucks got stuck in ponds-turned-lakes as the creeks flowing from the rising Russian River swelled and nearly swallowed them up. Some, like retired San Francisco police officer Frank Murphy, decided to ditch the vehicles, and commute by kayak and canoe down city streets.
Still, long timers like Steven Gerst, an RV park owner, took the wet weather in stride.
“Relatively,” he explained in a calm tone, “this is a little flood.” And he hearkened back to 1995 when it was way worse.
Gerst was right. So far this year, 11.4 inches have rained down in the area from Jan. 1 to Tuesday. In 1995, the region hit a rainfall record: 16.7 inches fell during the same time period, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson.
On Tuesday morning, the Russian River stood at 33.5 feet and was expected to possibly reach 37 feet— 5 feet above flood stage, which would trigger “moderate” flooding in low-lying areas of the Russian.
Anderson said while this was a slight cause for concern, the flood stage was much higher more than 20 years ago: 41.8 feet in 2006 and 41.5 feet in 1995.
Rescue crews were also taking precautions by riding about on jet skis looking for stranded people and cars.
But as firefighter Max Ming said this week: “This is kind of a routine hunker down. We’ll get past today..and we’ll be fine.”