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UPDATE: Santa Rosa Flooding Forces Evacuations in Bennett Valley; Schools Closed

SANTA ROSA (CBS SF/BCN) -- Residents of 95 homes and a four-unit apartment building in Santa Rosa's Bennett Valley neighborhood were evacuated Sunday afternoon due to flooding, city officials said.

The flooding in the area also prompted the Sonoma County Office of Education to cancel classes at schools in the Bennett Valley Union School District on Monday.

The fire department went door-to-door to inform homeowners in the areas of Neotomas Avenue and Tachevah Drive, Brookhaven Drive, Tuscan Drive, and the Washoe Court area, said Santa Rosa Public Information Officer Adriane Mertens.

The city received multiple reports of flooding, downed trees and power lines early Sunday afternoon, according to the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

"We have several dozen homes that are being evacuated right now utilizing swift-water rescue teams, as well as our high-profile wildland fire department vehicles, moving from door to door getting people out of harm's way as the waters continue to rise in this neighborhood," said Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.

Raw Video: Evacuations in Santa Rosa Bennett Valley Area

Officials encouraged residents in the area to remove their belongings from the first floor and garage due to rising waters. All residents in low-elevation areas were encouraged to do the same.

During evacuations, residents of two homes needed assistance and the city has called services to help them. City buses were also sent to help those evacuated.

The city is working on lowering flood levels. Debris is being cleared out of drainage areas and drains will be cleared out so water can flow properly, Mertens said.

As of 4:26 p.m., the fire department said water levels had significantly receded but road closure and evacuations would remain until the rainfall rates subsided.

Northeast of Santa Rosa, a vehicle drove through a flooded Slusser Road north of River Road and just south of Mark West Creek and became disabled. The California Highway Patrol said the public works crews were closing the road at the time but the driver drove around the workers and became stuck.

Car Submerged in Sonoma County
This is Slusser Road north of River Road. Sonoma County Transportation & Public Works was actively closing the road at the time but the driver still drove around and got stuck. Driver exited unharmed but the vehicle will have to wait to be towed until the water level drops. (Photo: CHP)

"Since there was no road-closed sign, no one waived me down to stop me, I was like 'Oh, I'll be fine.' No, not fine," said driver Cynthia Lutz.

Lutz was struck in her flooded car for about 10 minutes. And it became unsafe.

"The second the water started entering the car, that's when I was like 'okay.' And then, it got up to the seat, and I was like 'yup, we're getting out of the car now'," said Lutz.

Drivers are urged to not attempt to drive through any flooded road, whether it is closed or not.

Aside from flooded streets, the downpour reduced visibility and made it hard to drive in the North Bay. The CHP responded to many accidents. Other road hazards included mudslides and downed trees. One tree uprooted and landed on Robert Baba's two cars and the side of his Forestville house.

"There's been years of dry weather. These trees, they weren't ready for that much weight from the rain and yeah, the wind was probably the last straw," said Baba.

Updates on the storm can be found at

Da Lin contributed to this story.

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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