Flood threat prompts Northern California evacuations

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SAN FRANCISCO — Thousands of people in Northern California’s wine country were ordered to evacuate Tuesday evening shortly before a river reached flood stage as a winter storm dumped torrential rain and heavy snow that shut down major mountain highways.

Authorities said evacuations were ordered for about 4,000 people in and around Guerneville, which is about 60 miles north of San Francisco.

By 6 p.m., the river north of San Francisco — which is prone to flooding in heavy rain — had topped 32 feet and forecasters predicted it would peak at about 46 feet by Wednesday evening, which would be the highest level since 1995.

Earlier Tuesday at the River Inn Grill in Guerneville, workers were preparing by putting perishables on high shelves in storage rooms.

But manager Andre Vazquez said the one-story building could be largely submerged that if the river reaches 46 feet.

“If it gets to 46 feet, it’s done. There is no way to prepare for that,” Vazquez said.

Guerneville often floods during heavy rain and people seemed nonchalant Tuesday about the threat, said Joseph Chung, whose parents own the Koala’s Fine Food restaurant.

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