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Unexpected disasters on the Sonoma Coast

A crane hired to remove an oak tree from Michelle and Kevin McCarthy's Santa Rosa yard toppled into their home in 2009. (Mark Aronoff/ The Press Democrat)

JANET BALICKI,

In Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties, Mother Nature can bring us great joy, and she can also make us suffer. Earthquakes, floods and fires are just some of the hazards we accept and prepare for when 90-percent of the time we have beautiful sunny skies and temperate weather.

Last week’s brutal storms flooded river communities, swelling the Russian River to 38 feet — its highest mark since 2006 when it rose to 42 feet during New Year’s storms. Among the photos of hardy Guerneville residents canoeing down flooded streets were images of the somewhat unexpected after-effects of winter storms — homes destroyed by fallen trees.

These recent storms have made us think of the many times we have seen scenes like this our archive of historic photos, including homes and thoroughfares ripped apart by unexpected disasters. Whether it be by nature or man-made, the photos are dramatic.

Click through the gallery above to read about the individual stories from our recent local history.