School canceled for 12,400 Sonoma County students amid flooding

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Are you a parent, student or educator affected by school closures and flooding today? We want to hear about your day. Contact reporter Susan Minichiello at susan.minichiello@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5216.

About 12,400 students in Sonoma County had school canceled Wednesday amid power outages, mudslides and flooded homes and streets along the Russian River.

Seventeen school districts closed 45 campuses, according to the Sonoma County Office of Education. In Guerneville, where residents were ordered to evacuate and rising waters completely submerged cars and roadways, district officials said school would likely be closed for the rest of the week.

“It’s inaccessible. We are hoping we can get in on Friday, but we just don’t know,” said Dana Pedersen, superintendent of the Guerneville School District.

As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, 10 districts announced school closures for Thursday: Forestville Union, Harmony, Guerneville, Kashia, Monte Rio, Montgomery, Oak Grove, Sebastopol Union, Twin Hills and West Sonoma County Union High. Reach Charter School also will close.

Guerneville School, a K-8 campus on Armstrong Woods Road with 270 students, did not have interior water damage Wednesday morning, Pederson said. But the playground and parking lot had a couple of feet of stormwater that had not drained, she said.

Kaitlin Johnson, a school secretary and parent of a Guerneville fourth-grader, lives in the surrounding, tight-knit neighborhood.

Her house was OK, she said, but floodwaters from Fife Creek crept onto her driveway and backyard. A Guerneville native, Johnson likened the severity of the flood to the ones in 1995 and 1997.

“This is a serious flood and people need to listen to the advisory,” she said.

Added Johnson, “Businesses are closed, school’s canceled and everyone’s at home. People are gathering.”

Jack Martin, a 15-year-old freshman at Analy High in Sebastopol, spent time at home thinking of his friends who work at a bakery and ice cream shop in the Barlow, which on Wednesday was completely flooded

“I didn’t get to see any of my friends since we can’t drive,” Martin said.

Martin said the storm caused leaks on Tuesday at Analy, and rain buckets were placed on the floor by the stairs to the east wing. There also were heavy puddles at the quad, he said.

His parents own K&L Bistro, a French restaurant in downtown Sebastopol that was untouched by the floods.

“We are filled to the brim today,” said his mother, Karen. “We’re open, and we’re empathetic.”

The main roads to Monte Rio School — Highway 116 and Bohemian Highway — were closed Wednesday.

Superintendent Nathan Myers said he was unable to access and check on the school, but at higher ground it was likely safe from floodwaters.

The Kashia school, which serves about a dozen students, closed Wednesday because of a mudslide about a mile from its campus that blocked Skaggs Springs Road. The mudslide uprooted trees, said administrator Frances Johnson.

Rohnert Park’s Rancho Cotate High School also closed Wednesday after the campus lost power the previous day. It was partially restored Tuesday, but overnight a transformer failed, said Tony Roehrick, the district’s interim superintendent.

Although there was no major damage or flooding at his campuses, Healdsburg Superintendent Chris Vanden Heuvel said his district closed schools Wednesday because flooded streets posed a threat to public safety and many teachers commuting from west county were unable to get to work.

You can reach Staff Writer Susan Minichiello at 707-521-5216 or susan.minichiello@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @susanmini.

Are you a parent, student or educator affected by school closures and flooding today? We want to hear about your day. Contact reporter Susan Minichiello at susan.minichiello@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5216.

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