Russian River Flood of 1986

Russian River, Flood stage at the Monte Rio bridgecoverredointherough_homeImage of Russian River-1986 flood7The Russian River flood of 1986 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 inside.   Patrons continued to play a game of pool while in their boats.  Others fished from atop bar stools.

There were also stories of bewilderment and sadness.  The bartender on the night of February 18th, closed the Pink Elephant and tried to walk 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 mortuary 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.  Two weeks later inside the town’s Safeway, one of the family members spotted the son of the mortuary’s owner wearing the leather jacket.  A struggle ensued and the treasured item was forcibly returned to the family of the deceased.  (more…)

Russian River flood of 1986

Russian River flood 2-1986The Russian River flood of 1986 devastated the rural sector of Sonoma County.  This year marks its thirtieth anniversary.  As a visiting tourist in eighty-six and later as a full-time resident, I have never forgotten the pure power and intimidation of such a force.  Vietnam-era vessels with their square bows struggled against the current as they churned upstream looking for stranded residents and dangerous debris.   Runaway propane tanks exploded, sending a ball of fire downriver.   Mighty redwoods became lodged under the Monte Rio Bridge.  Abandoned canoes, patio furniture, vehicles and bits of homes found the backyards of complete strangers.  Leroy Robinson, a local businessman, says that the current tore out the bolts to the concrete foundation of his office.  The structure plus two of his trucks drifted past Joe Bacci’s century-old lumber yard (just east of the new bridge) where over 20,000 board feet floated away, making navigation hazardous for boats trying to rescue residents from low-lying areas. (more…)

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