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Creek Floods Parts of Glen Ellen, Soaks Saloon Basement

Jack London Saloon, used in 'Bottle Shock' movie, goes through its own bottle shock in heavy rain.

Jack London Saloon in Glen Ellen, known for its role in the wine country movie "Bottle Shock," sometimes goes through its own bottle shock when rain causes adjacent Sonoma Creek to overflow.

"We were like an assembly line in 2005, hauling all our stored liquor and wine out of the basement," co-owner Linda Richards told Patch on Friday, as heavy rain pelted Sonoma Valley. "The neighbors were great the way they helped us wipe the bottles and bring them out of there. There was silt all through the basement. We dropped a few bottles, but we didn't lose many, considering how many we had to rescue."

Thankfully, that wasn't the case this week. In the wee hours of Friday morning, water soaked about 0.75 inch of the basement floor. In 2005, water rose to the basement ceiling.

"The creek didn't go over its bank like it did in 2005," Richards said. "If the creek rises over the stairs, we're in trouble. We were worried about it this morning."

The stairwell is below grade level. Leaves clogged the drain overnight on Thursday and a pump wasn't working, so the saloon saw a bit of soaking but it paled in comparison to seven years ago—a year everyone in Sonoma County remembers.

"In 2005, my brother-in-law told me we had 2 feet of water in the basement," Richards said. "I couldn't imagine it, so I went down to see. Then we heard a crash as the water came through the back door and he said, 'Run up the stairs!' The water filled all the way up to the ceiling of the basement, under the dining room. Thankfully, it didn't reach the dining room but we kept an eye on it. It was the day before New Year's Eve and we had a big event planned."

Since then, Richards and her husband have changed the drainage system. They keep furniture down there and they have their wine up on racks and pellets. The couple are Sacramento attorneys. They have owned the saloon and adjacent Jack London Lodge since 1989.

"The sense of community is great here," said Richards, who has lived in the community for four years. "In 2005, our neighbors were really there for us, and we put some of them up at the lodge when their houses were flooded."

As Richards kept a vigilant eye on the creek overnight, another Glen Ellen resident was out in the mud rescuing his hens. He told Patch he went outside at 3:30 a.m. to find water under his deck and some of his fencing swept away. He took his hens out of their coop to safety. The creek backed off again later in the day.

As the storm continues to batter the Bay Area the heaviest rainfall has been recorded in the North Bay, according to a National Weather Service forecaster.

In the past 24 hours, parts of Sonoma County saw more than 7.5 inches of rain while the Santa Cruz Mountains were deluged with 7 inches. Rainfall in the past day was recorded at 4.33 inches in Calistoga. More severe weather is expected to affect the region's more mountainous areas and some areas along the coast.

Just before 11:30 a.m., an urban and small stream flood advisory was issued for all Bay Area counties until 2:30 p.m. because of many reports of flooded streets, highways, underpasses and small creeks.

Highway 121, south of the city of Sonoma, was closed due to extreme flooding which caused some drivers to abandon their cars in the water to await tow trucks.

Most of the Bay Area is under a flash flood watch through the weekend.

In the North Bay, 2,200 customers had power outages, while others impacted by the outages include 390 in the East Bay, 160 in San Francisco, 650 along the Peninsula, and 320 in the South Bay. At its peak, the storm caused nearly 16,000 customers to lose power overnight in the Bay Area, according to PG&E officials on Friday morning.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Reginald "Rex" Henderson December 02, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Shouldn't this be for the Glen Ellen readers?
Julie Pendray December 02, 2012 at 03:49 AM
For any readers. Our site covers the whole valley, and yes we have readers in Glen Ellen. Thanks for reading.

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