Russian River pours into California towns, swamping cars and buildings

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Northern California’s Russian River was threatening to crest Wednesday evening at a near-record height, as floodwaters washed out roads, leaving communities isolated.

The river reached 43.2 feet late Wednesday morning, cutting off the town of Guerneville, the Sonoma County sheriff tweeted. The sheriff also tweeted a photo of part of a road in Monte Rio, about 5 miles away, deluged by water.

“Please heed evacuation orders,” the sheriff tweeted.

Aerial video from CNN affiliate KGO in San Francisco showed people paddling through Guerneville in canoes and kayaks. On some streets, the water reached the windows of cars. On one street, the water reached the rooflines of a few buildings.

People living near the river were ordered to evacuate Tuesday ahead of the flooding.

The river could crest Wednesday night at 46.1 feet, Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said. The record is 49.5 feet, set in 1986, the National Weather Service says.

Thousands of people could get stranded if roads flood, Crum said.

About 20 miles upriver, musician Garrett Pierce posted a video of the Healdsburg Memorial Bridge on Wednesday. Water rushes under the truss bridge, close to the spans. The video shows some breaks in the clouds.

More rain is forecast over the next couple of days. A flood warning and a flood watch are in effect Wednesday for parts of the area, the weather service said. A flood warning means flooding is imminent or occurring; a watch indicates potential for flooding based on forecasts.

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