The 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.
Russian River flood, other stories:
People improvised. One teenager somehow secured a weed walker to his surfboard and motored out of the flood. Two other men used dresser drawers like dugout canoes and paddled with their arms to safety. Others were not so lucky. One woman tells of watching flames consume the second floor of her home while the river finished off the first level. Another submerged abode remained aglow, an eerie sight with lights quivering underwater. Locals shopped for necessities, canoeing through the aisles of stores.
And so it was, 1986. Chow, baby.