Nice Storm, Powers Out But the Generators Running and Everything is Cool

Wednesday January 4, 2023 Guerneville CA.

Rain, yes, lots of it

It was raining as I got it going today, so I was stuck in the house most of the day. It stopped for a bit then started raining some more. Just before dark I went out to shut the Chickens in for the night and the light in the chicken coop didn’t work. I discovered the power went off.

The storm really picked up just after dark and has been raining heavily since.

Fire up the generator

About six, my brother Tom, who lives next door to me came over and wanted to start our generator that supplies both our houses.

He’s seen some news and said the coastal road north along the ocean, a lot of big trees have fallen and they closed that road, it was so bad.

Checking on stuff

Now that I had power I was able to use my brother’s cable internet and check on stuff to see what was going on.

No school

Seems the river is about to flood, pretty good by Thursday night. No worries for us as my great grandfather was smart enough not to live in the flood zone. However we are used to the flooding as it did it a lot when we were kids, which we liked as there was no school.

In 1964, me and a buddy took an old canoe down Guerneville’s main street  which was flooded. We also paddled around the area a bit and got real wet and had a great time.

The Russian River is historically known for it’s flooding, among other things, so you’ll likely hear about us in the news as the news guys like to play it up.

More rain coming

Anyway, we should be just fine as the storms continue to come in for the next week or so.

In the 1950’s we had good storms like this almost every year and the old timers were used to this.

The only thing is there are almost no old timers left. :O) Newer people tend to freak out.

I have a wood stove that I keep just for this purpose, so I think I’ll get it going, although, when it rains, it’s not usually very cold around here. 50 degrees F. ish.

We’ll see what develops and keep you posted when I have power and internet.

Nice day, reminds me of old times.

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6 Responses to Nice Storm, Powers Out But the Generators Running and Everything is Cool

  1. Martha Sbarbori says:

    Was that you on the TV news at Johnson Beach with the news reporter?

  2. Gaelyn says:

    Nice to be prepared.

  3. Ken Solbakken says:

    My mom, dad, two older sisters and I were living on Riverside Drive in Guernewood Park. My sister Janis was a sophomore at EL Molino. My sister Lonna was a senior at Analy. I was still in the eighth-grade at Guerneville elementary school. Our house named “Villa Grande” backed up to the Russian River. We had a panoramic view of the river looking out our kitchen windows. The house was 2 1/2 stories and had a wonderful sundeck with a southern exposure located on the top story.

    I can’t remember celebrating my birthday that December 13, turning 14. I can’t remember the exact date when the storms started coming in off the Pacific, but I do remember heavy rains and strong winds. I was surprised how quick the river had transformed itself from a green easy flowing river stream to a chocolate colored raging river.. The schools were out for Christmas vacation. My dad had left for work very early this morning. I walked into the kitchen that stormy morning and I saw my mother staring out the big windows. She looked rather concerned as logs and debris floated past our house around the bend and out to the ocean.

    As I walked into the kitchen I said, “How high is to water Mama?”

    “I’m not exactly sure.” She had a trouble look then said, “Would you go down to the edge of the river (which had risen to the steps leading down to our dock) and drive a stick in the ground.”

    “Okay mom, but what is that going to tell us, we know its rising fast?”

    “Well Ken, if we time how long it takes the river to rise to the next step that will tell us how quick the water is rising.”

    “Not a bad idea,” I said.

    I knew it might relieve some of her worrying at least for a while, so that’s exactly what I did.

    I wasn’t the least bit worried in fact some of my friends and I were getting real excited with all the rain, water and Christmas coming.

     The creek that crosses Highway 116 and runs into the Russian River at Guernewood Park is Hulbert Creek.

    Dan Johnson (already in high school) had walked over to my house around noon and was already soaked. He was at El Molino in my sisters class.. He asked me if I wanted to walk up to the creek and see how high it was.

    By the time we got to the bridge and started walking up old Cazadero road we were totally surprised. The little creek was now 5 1/2 feet up its banks and still rising, in some places starting to overflow. The current looked very swift in some places there were rapids, we were impressed.

    Dan started talking first. “I’ve got an aluminum canoe stashed up at Bob Speights house.”

    His house was located another mile up the creek. I asked Dan, “Who owns the canoe?”

    “Well of course I do, it’s called salvage rights.” He said

    I wasn’t exactly sure what salvage rights were, but it sounded a little fishy and the canoe probably smelled the same.

    Dan went on to explain, “It’s the perfect day for trying out how the canoe handles in rough conditions.”

    We walked up to Bob’s house and found the canoe and two wooden paddles stashed in some brush hidden behind the house. We drug it down to the creek. We were getting real saturated from the heavy rain, but it was a warm rain. The Creek was about 25 feet across. Dan and I set there watching the water flow and were kind of chickening out.

    “I don’t know Dan; this looks a little treacherous to me. We don’t have life jackets besides we are fully dressed.”

    I was making excuses my better judgment was starting to kick in.

    “Yeah your might be right, at least we won’t have to worry about getting our clothes wet, when is the last time we had a free canoe and this much water flowing down Hulbert,” Dan said.

    After studying the creek for another five minutes I said, “Yeah, I think it’s doable, let’s go for it.”

    We found a better spot to launch, another 20 yards downstream. Dan decided he wanted to be in the front so I took the backseat.

    Pushing off Dan yelled, “River rats rule!” Which seemed to lift our spirits even higher.

    The situation was much more challenging than we expected, we were out of control at the get-go and I was supposedly doing the steering riding aft. We had only gone about a quarter-mile and came around this sharp bend in the creek; there was a big tree that had become the center of the creek when the water left the banks. After barely making it around the bend without swamping, the front of the canoe got pushed out towards the middle of the creek right where the tree was. We got caught dead center broadside on the tree. By this time things were happening in slow motion for me as my adrenaline started pumping. When the canoe capsized we were fortunate that it bent around the tree facing downstream and we didn’t get trapped. The hydraulics of the water was surprisingly strong. With all our clothes on we were having serious trouble swimming. I remember pushing off the bottom several times so I could come up and get a breath of air. As we bobbed along towards the bank, there was nothing but trees, brush and blackberry bushes, no easy way to get out. Finally we found an opportunity where there was a small beach. We bobbed and scrambled for the shore and safety.. I’m not certain why we didn’t drown that day, but if one believes in Guardian Angels, (which I do) I’m certain one was with us, who knows maybe two.

    If we had made it to the River I’m sure this story would never have been written by me.

     By late May while riding the school bus home on Old Cazadero Road the creek was back to normal about 6 inches deep. I spotted Dan’s free canoe still horse shoed around the tree. I never shared this story with my parents. They had so many other worries and financial burdens recovering from the Christmas flood of 64.

     It was the winter February 1970, I had already graduated from El Molino and was shipping out in the merchant marines headed for the Far East and Vietnam. We were caring munitions. My friend Rex Dupre and Mike Flaggerman had a similar canoe ride down the river in flood stage that winter. They rescued Mike Flaggerman hanging onto a tree in Monte Rio near the quonset hut Monte Rio Theater. Poor Rex never made it. Mike Durham told me they found his body two days later underneath the dock at Jenner. So sad for everyone, Rex and I were close friends in the eighth-grade. To this day I feel lucky or possibly protected by a Guardian Angel? I wonder what was going through their minds as they headed down the swollen river on that winter day. Rex’s family and loved ones were heartbroken as was I. There always seems to be an ill-fated adventure that runs amok for young men with no fear and oblivious to the many dangers that lurks around the bend.

  4. Another Reader says:

    Grew up in the Bay Area, a few years younger than you. Storms every few days in the winter back in the 50’s and early 60’s. My cousins grew up in Stinson Beach – flooding and slides were common. A few dry years and everyone forgets!

  5. Nancy K says:

    I got a lot of rain too, and I was on the very edge of that storm. Your grandfather was a smart man … and yes, all the new folks just panic over so much water. Lots of roads closed here, with flooded cars that tried to cross anyway. I guess there’s a little more to come. You’ll be busy cleaning up those trails now!!!

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