GUERNEVILLE (KPIX) – As if they didn’t have enough to contend with, neighbors who are still cleaning up from the recent flooding at Russian River, now have to deal with illegal dumping by outsiders.
Weeks after the floodwaters have receded, authorities in western Sonoma County find themselves having to issue a frustrating reminder. This is a natural disaster, not an opportunity for a spring cleaning free-for-all.
“I’m 84 degrees and I’m getting a little tired of what you seem I’m doing back there,” said Guerneville resident Art McNulty.
Garden hose in hand, he is still trying to clean up behind the Russian River flooding of late February, and so are a lot of people here. But the clean-up is slowing, because the piles of trash just keep coming. Not all of it is flood debris.
“Absolutely,” says McNulty. “I saw a U-Haul truck pull up across the street.”
What was unloaded, he says, was not flood debris.
For locals, the illegal dumping is infuriating, especially through the eyes of those still trying to get out from under the real mess.
“We do not want the lower Russian River top become the second county dump, essentially, where people just come and dump their debris, assuming it’s going to be picked up by the county,” explains District 5 Supervisor Lynda Hopkins.
She says piles of trash, like abandoned paint cans and construction waste, are not just in bad taste. They are also slowing, and threatening the actual flood clean-up.
“It could absolutely threaten our reimbursement,” says Supervisor Hopkins. “So we have people that are literally photographing every single debris pile and folks following it actually to the dump to make sure no one throws anything in along the way. It’s a very serious process, but it’s really unacceptable. You have folks who just lost everything, and you have folks who are taking advantage of an opportunity to get rid of their stuff for free.”
For McNulty, the flood recovery was part of life on the river. The illegal dumping, he says, is not.
“For people to come from somewhere else, and dump their crap, is a little bit more than I like to see,” he says.
No dumping signs have been posted along River Road. Authorities are asking anyone who sees illegal dumping to let them know. They say violators will be issued citations.