“The disaster is far from over,” began Jamie Whitelaw, Founder and President of North Bay Donate. “We have another storm coming in tonight - which could cause flood water to rise once again, and low-lying areas are still dealing with flooding and destruction, unfortunately.
Whitelaw is a local in Cazadero, California, and was raised just ten minutes away in Guerneville (where most of the destruction has occurred due to recent flooding). Some of the water has since receded, but it has not fully gone away. Cell service is unreliable and there is still no power in the area.
“Here in Cazadero, we had water rise rapidly in our creeks. This caused our Austin Creek to back up quickly. It was the first time since 1995 that we have seen water come up onto our two roads out. It overflowed and was around four to five feet onto the two roads, Cazadero Hwy and Austin Creek Road. There are roads going over the hills here which were also blocked by trees and mudslides. We were trapped,” said Whitelaw.
The water rose higher, causing the creek to flow into the Whitelaws’ yard and her neighbors had water up to their porches. They were finally able to get out yesterday.
“I knew that Guerneville and Monte Rio were bad. I wanted to see if I could get to my mom and mother-in-law. I knew they both would be trapped in at 32 feet, and the water was at 45. We were able to wait a couple hours, trudge through flood water in Monte Rio, making our way into Guerneville. Water was still flowing hard and onto the roads. On River Road at Monte Rio, S turns still had two feet of water on the road. Water at Ferns Market needed to be crossed, also two plus feet. Water was brimming all over the road but had receded enough to venture into Guerneville,” Whitelaw continued.
As they made their way to the main strip, they saw major water still flooding some businesses and roads. Old Cazadero Road was still under. Behind the La Tapatia, Park and Ride was flooded with an RV stuck in the water. They had to cross another two feet of water to try and get over the bridge to check on everyone. Many locals were boating through the flood water to get where they needed to go. Flood mud had taken over the buildings that had taken in water and every road they drove.
“Garbage, goods and many items were floating in the flooded areas from those that didn’t have time to pack everything and move to higher ground. We drove over the bridge, only to see six to eight feet of water on Neely Road and Drake. My mother lives down Drake, mother-in-law down Neely - still stuck and unable to get out. Everyone was starting to venture out to see the beginning stages of damage, others asking if anyone knew how their homes or businesses had survived the raging waters,” Whitelaw remembered.
Whitelaw said that many locals are prepared for this type of disaster, making sure they get everything needed up and gone before water floods them in. Yet, this flood was different. They had been told it was coming, yet none believed it would ever get this bad. Everyone who finally realized it would be the worst flood in 20+ years didn’t have enough time for real disaster prep.
“Many decided it was best to leave. Now driving, you just see major damage… and knowing another storm is on the way makes you wonder if you should wait to start clean up or wait and see if the water will rise at all."
North Bay Donate has been a 501 (c)(3) since 2017, and the organization has helped numerous survivors of seven fires and now a flood. Items that are currently needed include: monetary donations, gift cards for gas and groceries and cleaning supplies (on a large scale). Dumpsters will be brought out, but individuals will need shovels, push brooms, industrial dust pans and garbage bags. Laundry packs will be needed, including all laundry necessities and coins to go to a local laundromat. Storage bins, tarps, dehumidifiers, fans, heaters, tools for drywall rip out and hoses will also be needed.
To donate to North Bay via PayPal: https://www.paypal.me/northbaydonate. For more information, visit the website at nbdonate.org, or find North Bay Donate on Facebook.