Town in California becomes an island amid heavy flooding

Tim Russell of Guerneville attempts to pull a motorist from Armstrong Woods Road on Tuesday

"You can not get into or out of town".

About 3,500 people in two dozen communities along the river remained under evacuation orders.

"I feel so helpless just sitting here and waiting before I can go back and start salvaging whatever I can", Orr said in text messages to The Associated Press before preparing for a friend to take him by canoe to work at the Main Street Bistro, one of the few places in town that did not flood.

The waterway is forecast to crest at 46 feet around 9 p.m. Wednesday, and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said the town of Guerneville is landlocked.

"We hope everyone has evacuated, the roads are closing quickly", Sonoma's sheriff said on the department's Facebook page, showing a video of brown, muddy water rising above a road and flooding homes.

The flooding this week isolated the towns of Rio Nido, Guerneville, Monte Rio and Cazadero, inundating roads around those communities, according to the Sonoma County emergency operations center.

In Guerneville, their homes surrounded by floodwaters, residents have been moving around in kayaks and canoes. Residents can be seen kayaking and canoeing along the flooding roadways, passing submerged vehicles. The record river height is 49.5 feet.

Click through the slideshow above for an aerial perspective of the event.

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About 200 miles (320 km) north, a man drowned in a separate flood on Wednesday in the Northern California town of Ferndale, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Water inundated areas around Guerneville, a community of about 4,500 people.

Supervisor Lynda Hopkins advised residents in the flood areas to avoid contact with the water because it may contain human and animal waste, medical and household waste and sharp objects. "I've never seen it rain so hard", said Brian Gipson, director of marketing at the Farmhouse Inn hotel near Guerneville, which evacuated guests after water flooded its auto park a third of a mile from the river. Two were on a boat without paddles, and one was rescued from a tree after driving her auto into floodwaters, he said.

The pounding rain had stopped in Sonoma County before the sun rose Wednesday after a low-pressure system shifted the atmospheric river-fueled storm out of the region.

The National Weather Service categorizes any floods above 45 feet as "disastrous" for Guerneville, predicting that almost all its downtown will flood at that height. "You just ride it out", said Bridges, noting that this flood was the fourth he's experienced in 33 years.

"Please heed evacuation orders", the tweet said.

Several areas in California set record-high rainfall totals, including nearby Santa Rosa, which had almost 8 inches of rain in one day. As of Wednesday morning, the river already reached 43.25 feet. The Napa River also crested on Wednesday, but the damage across Napa County was relatively minor compared to what Sonoma County has suffered.

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