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Russian River Surges Past Flood Stage In Guerneville

GUERNEVILLE (CBS SF) -- Some evacuations orders remained in effect Monday in the area around the Russian River in Sonoma County as the river surged past flood stage.

According to the California Nevada River Forecast Center, the Russian River reached its flood stage of 32 feet at 1 a.m. Monday morning. It peaked at just over 35 feet at around 2 p.m. Monday afternoon, but there were several low-lying areas that had already flooded.

Sonoma County issued advisory evacuation notices to parts of Monte Rio and Guerneville on Sunday afternoon. According to officials, recent flood modeling predicted that approximately 550 households will be impacted when the Russian River peaks at 35 feet.

An RV camp that sits alongside the Russian River was under water Monday. The people who live there had to move their campers to higher ground and others left the campsite altogether.

Russian River Fire Chief Max Ming said people who live in low-lying areas were encouraged to evacuate.

"There are buses in Forestville waiting to take folks out. But I'll be honest with you, I don't think it's going to get to that," said Ming. "I mean, these folks are used to this and if it were going to get into the 40s, I think there'd be a lot more folks wanting to leave."

Another neighborhood was flooded after Fife Creek -- which connects with the Russian River – overran its banks. Residents in the area were forced out of their homes and temporarily displaced.

Guerneville flooding near Fife Creek
Guerneville flooding near Fife Creek (CBS)

The people KPIX 5 spoke to said this comes with the territory of living near the river and, as bad as it looks, it's part of the way of life in the area.

Area resident Tim Doyle told KPIX 5 he has been through this many times before. He recalls the floods of 1986.

"Ah, this is nothing. This is just an incidental flood," said Doyle. "'86 was a wipe out."

Rescue crews were boating up and down the Russian River all afternoon, assessing the damage and making sure everyone is safe.

The emergency operations center is open in Santa Rosa and county officials said they will continue to monitor the river throughout the day. Shelter is available at the Santa Rosa Veterans Building and domestic animal companions in crates are welcome.

The Russian River is anticipated to remain at flood levels through 3 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's office.

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