Sebastopol residents band together as floodwaters rise

As floodwaters receded Wednesday evening, damage emerged, not only in the town of Guerneville but Sebastopol as well. 

At The Barlow, a big open air marketplace near downtown, water lapped to the doors and inside some businesses.

The showplace for Sonoma County wares is a hub for shopping and dining, but during the flood, it became a launch spot for fire rescue boats. 

After dark, crews hauled in a young man who was showing signs of hypothermia, and called 9-1-1.  

"He was just standing on dry land but unable to get out because the water was five or six feet deep where he was," explained Captain Steve Thibodeau of the Sebastopol Fire Dept

"He didn't have much clothes on, so I'm not sure what was going on, but the medics will check him out."   

Sebastopol's flood, so near downtown, flowed from the Laguna de Santa Rosa, a sprawling watershed that drains to the Russian River, but couldn't do so when it was overflowing its banks.

The Laguna jumped its basin, swamping Highway 12, which connects Sebastopol to Santa Rosa.
As waters continued to rise Wednesday, it became a huge recreational waterway, full of kayakers. 
Sheriff Mark Essick surveyed the scene, and acknowledged boats are the only way to go.

"The water is murky and people are driving into it, still !" said Essick, urging people to avoid West County flood zones. 

"People are getting stuck and we're having to rescue them. They're losing their vehicles. Just please, stay away." 

As first responders brought stranded people to shore, some business owners were still laying sandbags, and spectators gaze at the expanse of water. 

"It's sad for our community and for The Barlow, which has only been around for a few years," said Sebastopol resident Danielle Smith.

"Businesses will be closed awhile, but I know our community will come back, we always do."  
One hard-hit pocket was a low-lying mobile home complex, Park Village. 

"It's hard to see the trailer under water because I have so many of my childhood memories in there", Samantha Colton told KTVU. 

Colton's 73 year old father was plucked from his trailer as it filled with water Wednesday morning. 
He has lived there 40 years. 

"My dad is very stubborn, that's where he wants to stay, and he's already told me he's planning on rolling up the carpets, tossing them out and letting the floor dry," said Colton. 

Her dad, Carl Hayes, is staying at the Red Cross evacuation shelter for now, but Colton wonders if the flood is a turning point. 

"You struggle with handling your parents when they get older, and making those  decisions. I feel like mother nature has definitely forced this one," she added. 

At the Community Market in the Barlow complex, butcher shop owner Adam Parks, waded through water and pried open the doors to see how much water had advanced on the foodstuffs. Most of his merchandise at Victorian Farmstead Meat Company had been trucked away and stored elsewhere well in advance. 

"We'll have a full crew in here ready to clean and bleach, and make it usable," Parks said optimistically, expressing hope that county officials will expedite re-openings with a minimum of red tape. Watching and waiting for the water to drop, he said, was the worst. 

"I have no doubt we'll recover. When fire's come, everybody pitches in to help. When floods come, everyone pitches in to help. I'm not worried about that. I just want to get started."

Authorities cautioned against allowing pets or children contact with contaminated floodwater, and urged everyone who is exposed to wash with soap