People paddle and row through the flooded Barlow Market District, in Sebastopol, California. Image Credit: AP

GUERNEVILLE: A Northern California river flooded 2,000 homes, businesses and other buildings and left two communities virtual islands after days of stormy weather, officials said Wednesday.

The towns of Guerneville and Monte Rio were hardest hit by water pouring from the Russian River, which topped 13 meters late Wednesday night, said Briana Khan, a Sonoma County spokeswoman.

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.

About 3,500 people in two dozen communities along the river remained under evacuation orders.

Jeff Bridges didn’t leave even though he said the water was 2.44 meters deep in some places. The co-owner of the R3 Hotel in Guerneville, said he and others who stayed behind were well-prepared to ride out the storm. He and employees moved computers, business records and furniture to second-floor room.

“As long as everybody is safe, dry and warm, it’s all fine. You just ride it out,” said Bridges, noting that this flood was the fourth he’s experienced in 33 years.

He added: “People in Florida have hurricanes, people in Maine have blizzards” we have floods,” he said. “It’s the price we have to pay to live in paradise.”

The river was one of several in Northern California that was engorged by days of rain from western US 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.

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 in recent days, including nearby Santa Rosa, which had nearly 20 centimetres of rain in one day. The often-waterlogged Venado weather station 8 kilometres from Guerneville recorded more than 50 centimetres of rain in 48 hours.