California man swept away by flood trying to reach kids

Jesse Hagan evacuates to higher ground Tuesday in Guerneville

Meanwhile, the town of Guerneville and neighbouring Monte Rio are described as islands - cut off by flooded roads.

The evacuation orders affect about two dozen communities stretching dozens of miles along the river, including Guerneville, with a population of more than 4,500.

The river crested at 45.31 feet Wednesday night, Sonoma County Emergency Operations Center spokesman Barry Dugan said.

The Russian River in the wine country north of San Francisco reached its highest level in 25 years Wednesday night and Sonoma County officials say it won't return to its banks until late Thursday.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office showed video on the department's Facebook page of brown, muddy water rising above a road and flooding homes.

If the river rises to 46 feet, the area will see the worst flooding it has experienced in 24 years.

An estimated 2,000 homes and other buildings have flooded in and around Guerneville, Monte Rio, and Forestville.

"We made a decision to take the rental vehicle through the waist-high water and we got two thirds of the way and then the auto stalled", she said.

Travel could be hard to impossible in some mountain passes above about 6,000 feet, says the National Weather Service.

Benito Nunez-Rodriguez, 35, of Ferndale was trying to walk from his job at a dairy farm to his home through up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water Wednesday evening when he was carried away by the fast-moving current, said Samantha Karges, a spokeswoman with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.

"We have not reached the peak yet", NWS meteorologist Carolina Walbrun said of the flooding.

"We've spent lots of time pulling people out of cars that drive into the water and they get stuck and we got to pull them out", Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Barman told KTUV-TV.

"We're all pretty shaken up about what happened and thinking what could we have done differently", Alexandre said.

Crum said Wednesday that those who chose to stay stocked up on food and drinking water.

The Oakville Grade Road between the Silverado Trail and the Napa River is now closed, while a number of homes in St. Helena are at risk from flooding. Miami and Houston put up with hurricanes.

He said the landlord has insurance, but the silt and dirty water are a mess to clean.

About 2,000 homes, businesses and other structures were flooded by water up to 8 feet (2.4 metres) deep.

"Anything that's been flooded you've got to rip it out, sanitize everything.and rebuild", he said, but added nonchalantly: "Everything's fixable".

The National Weather Service has also issued flood warnings and flash flood watches in many parts of the Sacramento area, which are expected to last through Thursday morning. In addition, hundreds of flights into San Francisco and the city of Santa Rosa have been canceled or delayed.

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