Russian River expected to stay at flood stage until Thursday night

The flooded Russian River crested Wednesday six feet over flood stage, and finally began to recede.

Forecasters say it will be late Thursday before it's below flood stage of 32 feet at Guerneville.

Low-lying areas are still full of standing water, impassable streets, and frustrated residents.

"Here you are, blocking the road!" admonished CHP Officer Kimberly Lemons, speaking to a driver on River Blvd. in Monte Rio.

The driver, like others before him, chose to ignore the posted signs "closed" and "flooded" and stalled his car on the submerged street, requiring assistance.

"When they do this, and they can't make it through, the fire department has to come out," exclaimed Officer Lemons.

Alongside the stalled Mustang was a pick-up truck that also made the attempt, but became water-logged.

Lemons noted that Wednesday evening, as fire crews were dealing with vehicle rescues, they were dispatched to a house fire in Jenner. 

"When your fire department is depleted going to tomfoolery, and they're needed on urgent calls, it's a problem." 

Aerial views show the river communities are saturated. The Russian River and its tributaries have merged into mini-lakes and made their way into neighborhoods.

And even though the rain eased late Tuesday night, the runoff did not, and some properties flooded in the wee hours Wednesday.

"I was blessed to save this vehicle and blessed to save my doggie," Rio Nido resident Greg Peddicord told KTVU.

Peddicord was in his pick-up truck, describing how his dog's barking woke him about 1:30 am, and he found several inches of water rising in his house.

"I was very panic-stricken for a moment, then took a deep breath, and got the things out you need to get, when I realized how fast the water was coming up." 

In Monte Rio, the marquee on the local theatre reads: "Flood Country 2017."

But some newcomers to the area don't appreciate the levity..

"I've run into people who were crying, they were so scared, asking 'what's going to happen' and we try to tell them its not that big," Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman told KTVU.

A big flood, says Baxman, is one that closes major roads, and cuts off the community,

This one stopped right in time 

"The sad thing is when this goes down, there will be garbage everywhere," observed Baxman, "so it's a nuisance. But the good thing about this flood is nobody was hurt,"

There will be damage, but Baxman says how much is unknown.

And there will be lingering slides on slopes that are unstable, and may let go with any more soaking. 

"This is only January, so how much more winter are we going to have and how much more rain we going to have?" mused Baxman.

"This country is loose, go around any corner, there are slides, they're everywhere you go."

Tuesday night, during the storm's last big wallop, a mudslide brought live wires onto a car, and the family inside needed rescue,

For CHP Officer Lemons, it was another example of why first responders don't need the distraction of drivers who get themselves stalled on flooded streets.

"When that family needed help, the fire department was busy pulling ding-dongs from a road so flooded it went over the roof of their car," declared Lemons, "and our crews should not be busy with this kind of shenanigans."

School closure information is available at http://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/storm-update-16.html.
   

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