Recovering from Russian River Flood

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Recovering from Russian River Flood

The Russian River flooded the city of Guerneville. The river has flooded many homes and roads.

The Russian River flooded the city of Guerneville. The river has flooded many homes and roads.

Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Russian River flooded the city of Guerneville. The river has flooded many homes and roads.

Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Russian River flooded the city of Guerneville. The river has flooded many homes and roads.

Sakshi Bhargava

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Following the flooding of the Russian Rivers near Guerneville, many people’s homes in the Sonoma Valley were destroyed, and citizens have asked their county to help them recover. In response to these requests, the Sonoma County has decided to create a curbside pickup group, where volunteers are going to help pick up debris and other items that may have washed away in the floods.
According to The Mercury News, Guerneville has been flooded approximately thirty-eight times since 1948. The city has not been able to fully recover from the floods, but almost every year more than two dozen families lose their homes. This year, two dozen towns around the Russian River were affected by these floods. In February of 2019, the Russian River which borders Guerneville rose about forty-five feet, which even for Guerneville is abnormal. Schools, parks, and many other government properties have been destroyed, and the residents have had a difficult time restoring their everyday lifestyle. According to CNN, the city of Guerneville has been turned into an “island” which meant that there was more water than land in the city. The Russian River had not been that high since the 1990’s. Since the floods, residents have been transporting themselves in kayaks and boats. According to USA Today, almost 2,000 houses were flooded and one person was killed. After the river rose thirteen feet above the flood stage, the citizens of Guerneville asked the county for help, since cities around Guerneville were also flooded. Sonoma County Emergency Manager Chris Goodley stated that, “The roads leading into the town along the river and across the river have been cut off by the rising floodwaters.” According to CNN, over fifty-nine people were rescued and eighty-nine roads were closed. The officials started allowing people in a few weeks after the floods. City officials evacuated 3,500 people and many homes, businesses, and other buildings were flooded eight feet deep. The Sonoma County soon decided to start a “Curbside Debris Collection” to support the victims of the floods.
The County of Sonoma held a board meeting with the Board of Supervisors, and unanimously decided to aid Guerneville with no cost. Supervisor Lynda Hopkins said, “Our community’s health and safety is our number one priority. The volume of waste this flood generated is more than many residents can handle individually. We’re grateful to community members who have stepped up to help out their neighbors as we move through the clean-up process.” Hopkin’s district was hit by storms early this year. The residents were asked to place the flood debris outside their houses in three piles: home appliances and metals, recyclables, and the actual debris. A group of “local waste haulers” came by every few days to pick up the items that the residents placed outside their homes, and the county also provided drop off sites. According to the County of Sonoma, officials estimated approximately 1,141 tons of waste collected at the drop off sites. They also estimated about 5,000 tons collected from the curbside collection program. According to CBS, curbside pick up itself would cost around $1.5 million, while the debris collection in total would cost over $2.5 million. On March 5, the public health services declared a local health emergency because of the amount of waste thrown into the streets throughout the city.
Although many citizens temporarily vacated during the flood, elderly residents have refused to leave. This has been hazardous for their health, but the curbside collection program helped them clean up their homes. An update was given to the citizens still living in Sonoma County: “the state is combing neighborhoods to pick up propane tanks and chemicals. Make sure your hazardous waste is visible from the road, and they will collect it.” The city of Guerneville and its surrounding towns have faced many challenges this year. Although many victims of this flood lost their homes and their belongings, but they are well along their way towards recovery.