SALEM – Waters covering roads in flood-hit northeastern Oregon were starting to recede Saturday, allowing residents who spent the night in shelters to return and assess the damage, a Red Cross official said.
Residents in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in northeast Oregon had to be airlifted by from their flooded homes by helicopter and even were taken out in a front-end loader as rain and melting snow caused rivers to crest their banks. Lower-income neighborhoods in Pendleton, a town of 16,000, were hit, damaging mobile homes, authorities said.
Seventeen evacuees spent Friday night at the Red Cross shelter in the Pendleton Convention Center, and numerous people dropped off blankets, pillows and other comfort items, said Nadine McCrindle, the Red Cross executive director for central and eastern Oregon. Another eight people stayed at a shelter in Walla Walla.
“They’ll be able to go to their homes and see what is left, if anything, and see what the damage is,” McCrindle said.
The rain had stopped on Saturday morning, but more was forecast before sunny weather comes on Sunday. The National Weather Service said flood warnings remained in effect.
On Saturday, national Guard troops were boarding two helicopters to search for people in need of rescue. There may not be access to search and rescue helicopters next week
Many roads in Umatilla County, where Pendleton is the county seat, were still closed because of high water or damage, the county sheriff’s office said Saturday on Facebook. On Friday, 26 people were evacuated by Umatilla County Search and Rescue, mostly from unincorporated communities east of Pendleton, with air support provided by the National Guard, the sheriff’s office said.
The Umatilla River crested just before 10 p.m. Thursday at more than 19 feet, nearly four times the average height for that date. Rivers all around the region overran their banks
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in Umatilla, Wallowa and Union counties late Friday, allowing mobilization of the National Guard.
Further north, thousands of Puget Sound Energy customers lost power as a cold front moved through western Washington Friday evening.
Also in Washington, flood warnings have been lifted for the Snohomish River near Monroe, Issaquah Creek and the Carbon River near Fairfax, KOMO-TV reported. However, many roads remain closed by landslides, flooding and fallen trees across much of King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston and Lewis counties.
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