2 Months Later: Guerneville still recovering from devastating Russian River flooding

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Guerneville still recovering from devastating flooding
Two months ago, most of Guerneville was under 42 feet of water after the Russian River flooded. Now the water is gone, but things are still not back to normal.

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Two months after the Russian River crested at more than 45 feet, we returned to look around and check in with some old friends.

"We hope to open in two weeks," said Lisa Flint, who owns the Farmhand Deli with her husband, Jason.

For eight weeks, they have toiled after five feet of water left slippery river mud on their floor and nearly wrecked everything.

RELATED:How bad was the Russian River flooding? Guerneville residents get first look

The Flints did not have insurance, but didn't want to ask for a handout. Instead, they sold $10,000 in gift certificates. "It worked," said Lisa.

Sonoma County told ABC7 News that the flood caused roughly $150-million in property damage.

FEMA never kicked in with assistance. Aside from some help from the county and state, Guerneville has been on its own.

"We're resilient," said Jeff Bridges, who owns the R3 Hotel on Mill Street at 4th. He still has a long way to go before reopening, but the place is taking shape. "We're resilient. All the demolition is done. Now it's the rebuild. That can go pretty fast. It's a minor inconvenience," said Bridges with a wry smile.

We found plenty of progress. Garbage that washed away, came to rest on the river bank, and piled up on streets, has disappeared. Tomorrow, the Chamber of Commerce holds its annual Spring Fling from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Locals say the event has has added significance, this year. "It's like our coming out of the flood party," said one resident.

RELATED:Sonoma County sends garbage trucks to remove flood flotsam lining streetsk

"What have you learned from this?" we asked Wendell Joost, the former undertaker and town sage. "That it will flood again," he said. "And that when a flood hits, we're here for everyone. If you have a canoe, you share it. If you have a fan, you give it to someone else to use as soon as you're finished with it."

"And when you find someone who works for you, stick with him," said Lisa Flint.

Her husband, Jason, just smiled.

Parts of Guerneville are still a mess, yes, but oh so much better than two months ago.

Guerneville is preparing for the 4th annual Russian River Food & Wine Spring Fling on Saturday April 27.

The Chamber of Commerce event featuring food and wine from the Russian River area hopes to bring some much needed tourism dollars to the recovering Sonoma County.