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The Latest: 2 flooded California towns remain inaccessible

February 28, 2019
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Flood waters from the Russian River partially submerge properties in Guerneville, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. The 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. (AP Photo/Josh Edelson)

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on flooding in California after days of heavy rain (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Officials say they expect two Northern California towns cut off after a river broke its banks during heavy rain to be accessible again by Friday.

Tennis Wick, Sonoma County’s permits director, said Thursday 30 teams of damage inspectors plan to enter flooded communities along the Russian River once the water level drops below the flood stage of 32 feet (10 meters). Wick says they expect that to happen by Friday afternoon.

The Russian River in wine country north of San Francisco reached about 46 feet (14 meters) Wednesday night, its highest level in 25 years. Floodwaters cut off the towns of Guerneville and Monte Rio and inundated several other communities.

Sheriff Mark Essick says there are no reports of deaths or injuries. He adds that deputies have helped rescued three women since Wednesday night.

He says two were on a boat without paddles and one had to be rescued from a tree after driving her car into floodwaters.

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12:15 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared an emergency for five northern counties after a heavy storm led to the worst flooding in 20 years in one county and the death of a man in another.

The Russian River in the wine country north of San Francisco is now expected to recede after reaching its highest level in 25 years. The river swamped some 2,000 homes and other buildings, disrupting many peoples' lives. (Feb. 28)
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Newsom said Thursday the emergency proclamation is for the counties of Amador, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma, where hundreds were marooned.

The governor says the emergency declaration directs state officials to immediately request federal assistance to help communities recover from flooding, mudslides and damage to critical infrastructure.

The Russian River in Sonoma County crested at more than 46 feet (14 meters) Wednesday night, flooding about 2,000 buildings. More than 200 miles (322 kilometers) to the north, a man drowned in floodwaters while trying to reach his home, where three children were trapped.

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10:20 a.m.

Authorities in Northern California say a man drowned in floodwaters trying to get to his home, where three children were trapped.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office says in a statement Thursday that deputies were sent Wednesday night to the house in Ferndale, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of two California towns cut off by water from a river that broke its banks.

The statement says the man was trying to walk to his home from a barn through up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water when he was carried away by the fast-moving current.

Authorities found his body Thursday. His name has not been made public.

The office says three people tried to reach the man by driving a tractor through the floodwaters but the tractor stalled and they couldn’t get to him in time.

It says deputies in a boat rescued the three people from the tractor and the children from the home.

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6:50 a.m.

Floodwaters that turned two Northern California communities into islands have started receding after inundating about 2,000 buildings.

The Russian River in wine country north of San Francisco reached about 46 feet (14 meters) Wednesday night, its highest level in 25 years. The water is not expected to return to the river’s banks until late Thursday.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Thursday that officials received no calls for help overnight from hundreds of people who stayed in their homes instead of heeding evacuation orders.

The town of Guerneville and neighboring community Monte Rio are cut off by flooded roads. Some places were standing in 8 feet (2.44 meters) of water.

About 3,500 people living near the river were told to evacuate.

Residents who stayed said flooding is not uncommon in the area and they were prepared to weather the storm.

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12 a.m.

A flooded river that swamped some 2,000 homes and other buildings in Northern California is expected to begin receding now that days of rain have eased.

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.

Meanwhile, the town of Guerneville and neighboring Monte Rio are described as islands — cut off by flooded roads. Some places were standing in 8 feet (2.44 meters) of water.

About 3,500 people along the river remain under evacuation orders.

Elsewhere, the storms that scoured the western U.S. dumped heavy rain and snow. In Montana, the governor signed an emergency order to help keep up the supply of heating fuel.