The flooding in Guerneville, a town ten minutes down the road from where I live, made national news. Aerial views showed a town under water which was the color of cafe au lait. Piles of rubbish, and threats of toxicity and disease outbreak came as soon as the waters receded. We were expecting the worst yesterday as we drove along River Rd. to the flooded areas for a day of reportage sketching.
The roads had been washed clean of debris by the subsequent rains and many of the businesses were open on Main St. in Guerneville. Garbage trucks were busy hauling trash to the dump. We caught this scene before the truck arrived to pick up the damaged goods. Betty Spaghetti’s restaurant next to the r3 Hotel with its pool and full activities calendar had flooded, and all the flood-damaged chairs and tables were lining the street.
Guerneville is one of the friendliest towns I know. People stopped to chat with us and tell us a bit of their story. Even though the flood had some devestating consequences, no one we talked with seemed dispirited. In fact I got the sense that most people here carry their toughness about weathering floods as a badge of courage. They are the self-proclaimed River Rats, who readily claim that most of the year they live in a river paradise.
Roger Jensen, Bar Manager and Event Coordinator at r3, was delighted with the attention of sketchers recording his place of business. He had confidence that they would quickly have the flood remediation completed and their doors open to the public this spring.
An old woman with a cane came by on her way out walking her dog and struck up a conversation. Her apartment is on the second floor of a residence down the street that had flooded.
She said, “This old matriarchal river rat stayed put during the flood. [against evacuation orders, by the way] I watched the water climb to the 18th step and stop. (cackles) I had to protect my property from looters.”
“With a gun?” I asked.
“No! with my cane (holds it up) and then there’s the pit bull next door. . .”