Record floods unfolding in Washington state

Rivers were rising to dangerous levels in Washington state on Tuesday.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | November 7, 2006


Rivers were rising to dangerous levels in Washington state on Tuesday. At least one person has been killed and the National Guard has been deployed to rescue people in northwest Washington believe to be cut off by rising water.

A Pacific storm has caused the National Weather Service to issue "record severity" flood warnings. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a state of emergency for 18 counties. More than six inches of rain fell in many areas in less than 24 hours. Rain was expected to continue through Wednesday, and waters will not recede until at least Friday.

People in several small towns near Concrete, in eastern Skagit County, who did not heed an evacuation order issued Monday found themselves stranded by floodwaters. The National Guard was sent to rescue them. The First Baptist Church in Hamilton was serving as an emergency shelter.

This is an area that has seen recent flooding. In 2003, more than 3,000 people had to be evacuated when floodwaters rose. This time around, damage has the potential to be worse, forecasters said.

In the town of North Bend (King County), some 30 miles east of Seattle, the Snoqualmie River overtopped a levee. Residents of two neighborhoods were urged to evacuate.

Residents in low-lying areas along the Snohomish River near Monroe and the Skykomish River near Gold Bar were being encouraged to move to higher ground, though most evacuations were not mandatory by Tuesday morning. Both rivers were expected to rise more than 10 feet above flood stage. These areas are both northeast of Seattle.

In Mount Vernon, along the Skagit River, townspeople were sandbagging through the night to try to keep floodwaters out of the downtown business area. The Skagit River was expected to crest there early Wednesday.

Rural homes and farmland were experiencing flooding as well.

Flooding was also expected on the Snoqualmie River near Carnation, the Skykomish River near Gold Bar, the Snohomish River in the town of Snohomish, the Stillaguamish River at Arlington, the Stillaguamish near Granite Falls, the Carbon River near Fairfax, the Skagit River near Mount Vernon, and the Cowlitz near Packwood and Randle.

One elk hunter died when his truck was swept into the Cowlitz River, according to Lewis County sheriff's reports. Another 200 hunters were evacuated Monday from dozens of hunting camps near the same river, in the Packwood area.


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