Flooding causes closure of highway between Idaho and Oregon

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — Severe flooding in eastern Oregon closed a major freeway on Friday, forced evacuations in low-lying areas and stranded at least one family on their roof as other parts of the Pacific Northwest also braced for more flooding and landslides.

Images showed massive big rigs floundering in feet (meters) of water that had poured over Interstate 84, a major freeway linking Idaho and Oregon, as the Umatilla River overran its banks. Smaller rivers and streams in the area roared with water from a rapid snowmelt, leaving at least one family stranded on their roof and authorities scrambling to rescue residents from a mobile home park.

“This area’s totally compromised,” Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts told the East Oregonian. “There will be property damage and vehicle losses.”

Tom Roberts, the Umatilla County emergency services manager, said the National Guard provided aerial aid late Thursday as roads near the Umatilla River filled with water.

Evacuation shelters were open in Pendleton and at a warming station on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation usually used for homeless people.

“We’re getting as many resources as we can. Please don’t put yourself in harm’s way, don’t cross moving water,” he said.

Elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, officials braced for more flooding and landslides.

In western Washington, a tree fell on a car on State Route 18 west of Issaquah on Thursday night, blocking the highway for hours. No one was injured. People living in an apartment building in Issaquah were evacuated Thursday after Issaquah Creek breached its banks and began running under the building.

The King County Flood Warning Center issued a flood alert early Friday for the Snoqualmie River. They said numerous road closures were possible in Snoqualmie Valley.

Pierce County warned that the Puyallup and Nisqually rivers were predicted to reach major flood stages Friday morning.

Snow levels will drop and heavy snow is expected in the Cascade Mountains through Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said. Winds are expected to pick up, too, they said.

The Flood Warning Center believes the City of Carnation may be “an island” by Friday morning due to cresting water, according to KOMO -TV. The Emergency Operations Center is receiving reports that only one road is available to get in and out of the city between Fall City and Carnation.

A National Guard vehicle was sent to the city to assist people, if necessary.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation for 19 Washington counties because of damage from storms that are forecast to continue into the weekend. King County Executive Dow Constantine signed an emergency declaration Thursday to speed up response.

Crystal Mountain Resort closed Thursday because of high avalanche danger and mudslides on the road to the large ski and snowboarding area in the Cascades. Sound Transit canceled Sounder north train service Thursday and Friday because of mudslide risks.

Small landslides have also occurred near the Oregon coast, with at least one disrupting traffic Thursday near Newport, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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