For Immediate Release
Sonoma County issues evacuation warning for low-lying areas along the Russian River
SANTA ROSA, CA | January 04, 2023
Sonoma County emergency officials issued an evacuation warning today for residents of low-lying areas along the lower Russian River, urging people to prepare to leave in anticipation of the river reaching flood levels of 33 feet on Thursday night and 40 feet early Sunday morning.
The evacuation warning covers properties along the Russian River between Healdsburg and Jenner below the 32-foot flood level. A map of the area covered by the evacuation warning is available at https://socoemergency.org/emergency/warnings-and-updates.
For those in need of shelter, the county has opened an emergency shelter in the E.C. Kraft Building at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Check in with security at Gate 2, located at 1350 Bennett Valley Road. in Santa Rosa. Cots and comfort kits will be supplied by the American Red Cross of the North Bay, and mental health services will be available from the Sonoma County Department of Health Services. Pets are allowed. Masks will be required inside the shelter, a requirement by the state Department of Public Health to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The county also will provide assistance for those who need help moving an RV or other vehicle out of the evacuation warning zone. For information about assistance in relocating vehicles, call 707-565-2454. People living in nontraditional housing conditions are advised to move to higher elevation if they are located in low-lying areas.
The National Weather Service forecasts the lower Russian River will surpass the 32-foot flood stage in Guerneville around 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, and peak around midnight at nearly 33 feet before receding below flood levels the morning of Friday, Jan. 6. The Guerneville area is expected to reach flood stage again on Sunday, Jan. 8, when the river is forecast to surpass the 32-foot flood level around 4 a.m. and approach nearly 40 feet by midnight.
For your safety Thursday, prepare to leave the areas below the 33-foot flood level in the lower Russian River area. Be sure to take essential items, such as medicines with you. If you live above the 33-foot level, your access may be reduced or restricted.
An evacuation warning means there is a threat in the area. Be prepared to leave if an evacuation order is issued for your area. If you feel unsafe, do not wait for an evacuation order, leave immediately.
- Gather essential items now to be ready to go.
- Check your neighbors to see if they need assistance evacuating.
- Continue to monitor local media, social media and be sure you are signed up for alerts.
Visit https://socoemergency.org/emergency/evacuation-zones/ to see if your property is included in the evacuation warning zone.
Current weather conditions and soil saturation levels are creating conditions for mudslides – rivers of mud that move fast and with little to no warning. Mudslides usually occur when water rapidly accumulates on steep slopes, which results in a surge of water-saturated rock, earth, and debris.
As water carries debris downhill, material can get trapped behind roads and structures, causing washouts. The potential for these conditions are prominent throughout the hillside neighborhoods in the Russian River region. Areas that burned in the 2020 Glass fire east of Santa Rosa are particularly vulnerable to mudslides.
Sonoma County activated its Emergency Operations Center today to monitor and respond as needed to three major storms expected through Wednesday, Jan. 11. Local emergency and weather officials are advising Sonoma County residents to avoid unnecessary travel and prepare for high winds, flash flooding, downed trees and the potential for power outages throughout the region, as well as the potential for landslides or debris flows in burn scar areas.
In addition to a High Wind Warning across the region, the National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Warning for coastal areas and a Coastal Flood Advisory for the North Bay.
Follow the County of Sonoma’s Facebook page for updates on the storm. Other official sources of information are available on SoCoEmergency.org.
County emergency officials are advising the following steps to protect yourself, your family and neighbors and your property during these storms:
- Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
- If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay inside. If water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
- Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
- Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter in place, and flood response.
- Make sure your Go Bag is ready in case you have to leave immediately.
- Evacuate if told to do so.
- Keep in mind medication needs. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
- Locate backup batteries and charging devices for phones, radios and other emergency equipment.
- Keep important documents in a waterproof container.
- If flooding occurs on your property, move to higher ground. If trapped in a building, go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic. Go on the roof only if necessary
More information about preparing for floods, including sandbag locations, is available at https://socoemergency.org/emergency/flooding/
Information about preparing for landslides is available at https://socoemergency.org/get-ready/local-hazards/landslides/
Sign up for Sonoma County emergency alerts here: https://socoemergency.org/get-ready/sign-up/
A full list of road closures, including text and email alerts, is available at https://socoemergency.org/emergency/road-closures/
Review official sources of information in Sonoma County here: https://socoemergency.org/get-ready/official-information/