Rachel Wulff reporting


WILLIAM (CBS13) — Traffic backed up after water backs up on a major roadway. Southbound Interstate 5 was shut down because of flooding-creating a headache for drivers.

Flooding was bad in 2017 but this year it’s worse said Williams Fire Chief Jeff Gilbert.

“It’s going to be higher than it was two years ago,” said Gilbert.

Emergency responders were hard at work.

“Four rescues, this is probably number five or people going past road closed signs,” said Gilbert.

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Crews spent the morning saving drivers stranded by high flood waters. There were a dozen people rescued by boat.

One man and his family were trying to find another way home. SB I-5 was closed in Williams and NB slowed to a trickle because the road was underwater.

“We’re trying to get home without having to swim,” a driver said. “All of our options to get around aren’t there anymore.“

Thousands were in the same boat, trying to navigate flooded side roads. There was water as far as the eye could see after the third winter storm in two weeks.

“We still have a lot of water to our west that’s coming out of the foothills, a lot of rice fields are saturated and again everything moves west to east,” said Gilbert.

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Some truckers put it in park.

“Our boss told us to just hang out and wait,” said one who had pulled over nearby to the side of Highway 20.

But who knows how long the water will be there?

“It could be a long-term deal in terms of standing water, three-four days, just depends what the water does,” Gilbert said

The road reopened Thursday afternoon but there was still a lot of water on the roadways and more rain in the forecast.

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