In Monte Rio, the flood of February 18, 1986 reached 48.56 feet, inundating much of the town. The upper photo depicts the old Highland Dell resort alongside private residences, taking on as much as eight feet of water. In the lower left photo is pictured a classic. VW buses are great for a number of things—camping, hitchhiking, parking at inspiration point—but fording through water, not so much. You wonder if the driver will get help, or even contemplate returning as the sign above suggests?
The torrent brought both sadness and humor to the scene. One story relates how the Pink Elephant saloon in Monte Rio kept its doors open despite the presence of three feet of muddy water. Patrons continued to play a game of pool while in their canoes. Others sipped whiskies, feet dangling from bar stools into the river as if it was just another day in paradise.
Flood of ’86:
The bartender locked up and began walking through the flooded street to his home. However, somewhere along his journey he lost his way and fell into the raging waters and drowned. The family of the deceased complained to the folks at the Guerneville Redwood Chapel when their relative appeared in his coffin without his favorite leather jacket as requested. The mortician’s assistant said that the victim arrived from the local authorities without any such apparel. Soon thereafter inside the town’s Safeway, a member of the deceased’s family spotted the son of the mortuary’s owner wearing the leather jacket. A struggle ensued and the treasured item was removed from the interloper and returned to its proper owner.