Devastating floodwaters cut off entire towns in Northern California

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Parts of Northern California are coping with the worst flooding there in more than two decades. Floodwaters from the Russian River carried away vehicles in the resort town of Guerneville north of San Francisco. Thousands of people are trapped.

The Russian River crested Wednesday night at 46 feet — 13 feet over flood stage. CBS News’ Meg Oliver reports from Hacienda, California, an area completely cut off by the flooding. The river has risen so high, we won’t know the full extent of the damage until floodwaters begin to recede.

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The only way to get in and out of Guerneville is by kayak or canoe. When the Russian River overflowed, it inundated the small town, surrounding homes with water, submerging cars and trapping anyone who didn’t get out.

More than two dozen towns along a 25-mile stretch of the river were evacuated. Along with Guerneville, Monte Rio is now also essentially an island and nearly 100 roads in Sonoma County are closed. An area weather station recorded more than 20 inches of rain over the past three days.

Floodwaters stranded at least 2,000 people in Guerneville, where the water came up so high it reached the roof of an RV.

Emergency crews have been forced to prioritize those who are in immediate danger.

“We are not going to be rescuing people unless there is an imminent life safety threat. So people are just going to have to be patient,” said Sonoma County emergency manager Chris Godley.

Rachel Vasquez didn’t think the floodwaters would reach her home. Now she’s waiting out the disaster with her four kids. She said she and her family should hopefully be OK.

Sonoma County has urged the governor of California to declare a state of emergency. While the water is beginning to recede, even more rain is expected later this week.

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