Developing Story: Evacuations Underway in California as Rivers Flood

Major flooding in Sonoma County, California sees officials implement mandatory evacuation and leaves two towns only accessible by boats.

As rivers flood in Northern California resulted in nearly two dozen towns and up to four thousand homes and structures being submerged in water. The massive floods have prompted evacuations and left two towns accessible only by boat.

County officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for all towns near the Russian River area following a massive mudslide near Monte Rio on Tuesday. 

Relentless rainfall caused the Russian River to surpass major flood stage on Wednesday. By that night, the river exceeded 45 feet.

"A slow-moving storm is moving into the West Coast from the Pacific, which has been the cause of very heavy rainfall that has occurred over northern and central California [Monday and Tuesday]," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Frank Strait.

The town of Monte Rio, California, was inaccessible on Wednesday, Feb. 27, due to flooding. Today officials confirmed that Guerneville is inaccessible and urged people to "evacuate now if you live near the Russian River."

"You cannot get into or out of town," officials said. "Guerneville is officially an island."

According to reports, about 4,500 people live in the town and half have evacuated. Both Monte Rio and Guerneville are currently cut off from neighboring communities

A mudslide on Bohemian Highway has closed the roadway in both directions near Monte Rio. This severely limits options for evacuation as the Bohemian Highway is one of two routes out of the area. The only viable option now is Highway 116, which runs along the swelling river. 

The current rainfall is record-breaking. Parts of the river are reported to be cresting above 45 feet. This is the most flooding the area has seen since 1995. The Russian River is usually about 20 feet wide but with the floods, it currently stands at two thousand feet wide and rising. 

Officials fear more flooding and mudslides as they gear up for a second storm is to hit the state on Friday. However, for now, the rain has eased.

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