Elderly couple couldn't afford flood insurance, home damaged in Guerneville

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Pushed out of their homes because of rising water, many Guerneville residents are expected to return home for the first time on Friday afternoon since flooding devastated the North Bay community earlier this week.

The news is bittersweet for Art and Agnes Mcaulty. They’ve lived in their two-story gray home for 25 years and let their flood insurance lapse for the first time because it was just getting too expensive.

Their home was severely damaged during Wednesday's flooding. Large vehicles pushed waves into their garage; their door was askew and crumpled. And all of their belongings they were storing downstairs are destroyed.

“I’m 84,” Art Mcaulty said. “And I'm not ready to start all over. I was stupid. After all these years, I was insured. This year, I made a choice that was stupid. I love it up here. I made a decision that really cut me in half." 

His wife, Agnes Mcaulty, said these last two days have been very stressful. She and her husband haven’t really been able to assess all the damage yet. 

On Wednesday, the Russian River swelled so high, it caused Guernville to literally become an island, with no way for people to get in or out, the Sonoma County Sheriff said.

On Friday morning, most of the water receded and the road was dry. But there is still significant flooding in backyards and at some businesses.  There is debris in the street - and mud all over the sidewalks.  Gov. Gavin Newsom  declared a state of emergency for Sonoma County, which will allow funding and resources to help the flooded communities recover.