PHOTOS: Northern California communities flooded by rain-engorged river

Debris float past a street sign in the flood waters of the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)

Floodwaters that turned two Northern California communities into islands were expected to begin receding Thursday as a rain-engorged river finally peaked after swamping thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings.

The Russian River in the wine country north of San Francisco crested at more than 46 feet (14 meters) Wednesday night, Sonoma County officials said.

The river frequently floods in rainy weather but it hadn't reached that level for 25 years and wasn't expected to recede again until late Thursday night.

The estimated 2,000 buildings inundated by floodwaters were mainly in and around Guerneville, Khan said.

"Guerneville has essentially become an island," Khan said. The nearby town of Monte Rio also was isolated when roads leading to it were swamped.

No injuries were reported and by Wednesday night the rain had eased but about 3,500 people in two dozen river communities remained under evacuation orders.

In addition, two sewage treatment plants weren't working, leading to concerns about potential sewage spills, she added.

Scott Heemstra prepares to take David Youngberg and his dog Macallan out of the flood zone as floodwaters rise in Guerneville, Calif., Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

The river was one of several in Northern California that was engorged by days of rain from western U.S. storms that also dumped heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada, throughout the Pacific Northwest and into Montana, where Gov. Steve Bullock signed an emergency order to help keep up the supply of heating fuel amid frigid temperatures.

Ryan Lance, left, and Anthony Nash of the Russian River Fire Protection District swift water rescue team rescue residents of Sycamore Court Apartment in lower Guerneville, Calif., Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Kent Porter/The Press Democrat/AP)

Two Amtrak trains together carrying nearly 300 passengers stopped and reversed directions because of an avalanche that closed railroad tracks in the Sierra Nevada.

In Idaho, the mountain town of Stanley became marooned Wednesday after all three highways leading to the town were closed because of drifting snow, avalanches and the risk of more slides.

Several areas in California set record-high rainfall totals, including nearby Santa Rosa, which had nearly 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain in one day. The often-waterlogged Venado weather station 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Guerneville recorded more than 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in 48 hours.

Dozens of people were rescued from cars that became stranded Tuesday and early Wednesday after drivers tried to cross flooded roads.

Nina Sheehan, who is visiting from North Carolina, had to abandon her rental SUV after it got stuck in a flooded hotel parking lot.

A California state flag hangs from the front of a home submerged in the flood waters of the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)

"We made a decision to take the rental car through the waist-high water and we got two thirds of the way and then the car stalled," she said.

Rhondell Rasmus had pulled to the side of a road too flooded to cross in Sebastopol in Sonoma County late Tuesday night and emergency dispatchers told her to wait for help. But just before dawn, she awoke to find the car was nearly submerged and she was out of gas.

"The water just came up so fast next to my car, it was crazy," she told the Press-Democrat newspaper of Santa Rosa.

She wound up in an emergency shelter, bringing with her a handbag, a backpack and a pair of rain boots.

In Guerneville, streets became seas of muddy brown water. Jeff Bridges, a hotel co-owner who is president of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce, spent the day canoeing through town and gave a ride to a couple and their dog who were stranded in a low-lying apartment.

Five people whose homes were flooded were bunking down at his two-bedroom home.

"We saw quite a few fish swimming by my front porch," he said.

A vineyard along River Road is completely flooded, Feb. 27, 2019, near Forestville, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

Bridges said this flood was the fourth he's experienced in 33 years and the locals took the disaster calmly.

"It's the price you pay to live in paradise," he said. "Buffalo, New York puts up with blizzards. Miami and Houston put up with hurricanes...we have floods."

However, Bridges said it will take weeks to clean up his R3 Hotel, as he has done in past floods. More than 8 feet of water inundated the 23-room business.

"Anything that's been flooded you've got to rip it out, sanitize everything...and rebuild," he said, but added nonchalantly: "Everything's fixable."

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People gather on a partially submerged RV in the flood waters of the Russian River in Forestville, north of San Francisco, Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
A No Parking sign is almost completely submerged in flood waters from the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
Anna Gaffney is pulled to shore by Jason Clopton of the Russian River Fire District swift water rescue team in Guerneville, Calif., Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
Flood waters from the Russian River surround a home in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
A man uses a paddle board to make his way through the flooded Barlow Market District, Feb. 27, 2019, in Sebastopol, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)
A truck is seen submerged in the flood waters of the Russian River in Forestville, north of San Francisco, Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
A pickup truck is seen submerged in flood waters from the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
A California state flag hangs from the front of a home submerged in the flood waters of the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
A CHP helicopter uses Main Street in Guerneville, Calif. as a landing pad as water continues to rise, Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
Cheryl Hughes looks out of her window of her home that is surrounded by flood waters of the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
Pacific Gas & Electric workers and a canoe are seen on a street flooded by the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
A home is seen reflected in the flood waters of the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
People paddle and row through the flooded Barlow Market District, Feb. 27, 2019, in Sebastopol, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)
Ryan Lance, left, and Anthony Nash of the Russian River Fire Protection District swift water rescue team rescue residents of Sycamore Court Apartment in lower Guerneville, Calif., Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Kent Porter/The Press Democrat/AP)
A pickup truck is submerged in flood waters from the Russian River in Forestville, north of San Francisco, Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)
A man paddles a boat near a home surrounded by flood waters from the Russian River in Forestville, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Short/AP)

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