Longtime Guerneville residents have been through this before. As the Russian River floods the small west Sonoma County town this week, retold are the stories from 1998, or 1997—or the highest water level of all, the Great Valentine's Day Flood of 1986, which submerged the town entirely.
This week's Russian River flooding inspired me to dig up an old 45 rpm record, made in 1985, a local effort sold at mom-and-pop shops in Guerneville:
Titled "Russian River Flow," the slow, sentimental song romantically commemorates the Russian River's beauty, its gentle breeze, and... wait, what? The regular flooding of the town?!
Then its magic rise
takes all our love by surprise
water so clear and so true
you have taken our love with you
With its rumble and high waters flowing
and its loved ones with tears flowing too
as it flows with great force and destruction
but we know it will be over soon
The songwriter of "Russian River Flow" was Dominic Raitano, a community icon who founded the Safeway Flea Market. Raitano died in 2007, so we can't ask him exactly why he wrote such a sweet, sentimental ode to the Russian River submerging the town and washing away people's houses, cars and possessions.