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RIO VISTA (CBS 11 NEWS) – Monday, there were two people with very different reactions to Sunday night’s tornadoes that spun around Rio Vista.  One was racing to avoid an even worse outcome should rains return, the other was realizing just what a dangerous predicament she’d been in when she shared a frightening picture with the world.

Taylor Gaines was helping her mom clear a very important piece of road — her driveway. Their home sits on a hill above a creek.  The driveway crosses a low water bridge to get to the only road to and from the house. Flood waters spilled over it piling the small bridge high with debris and causing water to back up blocking their only means of escape.

“This bridge, because there’s a hill, it overflows and it’s running water over the top of it like all the other little creeks and you can’t get out because it’s just running,” Gaines said while her muddy hands held a pitch fork she’d been using to break up the log and limb jam blocking the flow of water underneath the bridge.

Homes & Businesses Cleaning After Rio Vista Storms:

Twelve hours after the storm, the water was still over roads nearby. But the night before the water would have been over a person’s head, up to the top of a debris line that leveled off in trees and fences ten feet above the roadway.

“It flooded all the way up that hill,” Gaines said as she pointed toward the hill upon which the house sits.

They worked with urgency knowing even a small rain would swell the creek again.

“We got to move all the stuff so that it will keep flowing so that if it rains tonight it won’t overflow again because they can’t get out,” Gaines said.

Meantime, Shelli Vinyard spent the morning touring the storm damage that spared her mobile home.  She had beeen watching weather radar on her cellphone the night before and fled her home ahead of the storm.

“We had the big ugly red with purple in the center of the tornado and there was like a hook on it that was going to come back around and hit,” Vinyard said of the radar image that prompted their retreat. “So, we all jumped in the car and took off to Whitney to get away from the storms.”
Vinyard stopped at what she was a safe distance. She pulled out her phone to take a picture. Somehow it was exactly when lightning back lit a frightening sight — one of three tornadoes she saw that night. The picture was posted on her Facebook page and was immediately circulated by internet and broadcast outlets.

“Ha! That was really close,” Vinyard laughed nervously as she looked at the picture on her cellphone in the light of day.

But, she had a different perspective of the picture without the adrenaline of the moment.

“Being out there was kind of passionate and wild and exciting,” she reflected. “But, now I’m like, whoa. That was pretty intimidating.”

Vinyard spent most of the day recording and posting online what she saw in her community. A frightening crash course into a photography field that had always intrigued her.

“I’ve actually been wanting to take pictures outside of nature so I guess I finally got to,” she laughed.

That is one heck of a way to become a nature photographer.

“No kidding!” Vinyard exclaimed.

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