Northern California Floods Prompt Thousands to Evacuate

Direct Relief has extended offers of medical assistance throughout Sonoma County, where the Russian River has flooded several communities.



Emergency personnel wade through flood waters in Sonoma County on Feb. 26, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office)
Emergency personnel wade through flood waters in Sonoma County on Feb. 26, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office)

Communities in Northern California were deluged with rainfall this week, causing widespread flooding and forcing more than 3,600 people to evacuate their homes.

The Russian River, which runs through Sonoma County, rose rapidly due to heavy rainfall, turning several communities, like Guerneville, into islands. No injuries have been reported at this time, but county officials estimate more than 2,000 homes and buildings have flooded.

Direct Relief is in communication with partner healthcare facilities throughout Sonoma County, including the communities of Healdsburg, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Santa Rosa.

Direct Relief has also extended offers of assistance to the California Primary Care Association and is in contact with the California Office of Emergency Services. Direct Relief is also a member of California’s Business Utility & Operations Center, which engages private, public and nonprofit organizations during times of emergency for coordinated response.

Direct Relief’s medical inventory includes Emergency Health Kits, which are designed to rapidly deploy and equip health providers during times of disaster and mass evacuation, including shelter situations. Direct Relief is also ready to assist with any health-related issues evacuees seeking care at local health centers may be experiencing.

When people evacuate their homes during an emergency, essential medicines needed to manage chronic conditions are often left behind. Power outages can prove an extra challenge for people reliant on temperature-controlled medicines like insulin.

This puts people with chronic health issues, including diabetes, asthma and hypertension, at heightened risk, which can require emergency care.

Because many communities in Northern California were recently impacted by serious wildfires, flooding threats in communities beneath or nearby those burn scars are widespread. That threat includes Butte County, where the Camp Fire swept through last year, destroying the town of Paradise. Flood warnings have been issued in that county, where some localized flooding has been seen.

More rain is expected to sweep through the state Friday and into the weekend, and Direct Relief is ready to respond if requested.

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