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Residents help one another in WA

Residents reach out to one another to repair homes following floods, mudslides, avalanches in Washington State

BY VICKI DESORMIER | ACME, WA | January 20, 2009

"They are so caring of each other. They are out there fixing their houses and their neighbor's houses. . . It was very heart warming."

—Carol Legg, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Disaster responders and local residents have begun the task of rebuilding homes and lives following floods, mudslides and avalanches that damaged homes and highways in the Pacific Northwest.

Washington State is working around the clock to clear roads and highways that were severely damaged by the slides and flooding. According to Abbi Russell, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, state workers are clearing mudslides, repairing roadways and cleaning ditches to keep roads open and passable.

"At the peak of the storms, there were at least 20 separate closures in Southwest Washington. Crews were able to reopen the majority of these within 36 hours," she said. "Four highways sustained severe damage, and assessment and repairs have begun on the highways where damage still exists." State Road 508 and US Highway 12 in Lewis County, State Road 503 in Cowlitz County, and US Highway 101 in Pacific County are all being repaired today.

Carol Legg and her husband David traveled to the Pacific Northwest from Cincinnati for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. When they arrived at the Presbytery of North Puget Sound in Washington, they found homes caked in mud, huge rocks in various sizes that had crashed down the mountains and landed on roads, near and on homes and flooded streets in Acme, WA. The devastation looked awful.

But what they saw that impressed them most was the way people were coming out to help one another.

"They are so caring of each other," Legg said. "They are out there fixing their houses and their neighbor's houses. . . It was very heart warming."

After 2008 left behind a couple of dozen feet of snow, temperatures in the Pacific Northwest warmed into the 40s. The snow melted quickly, sending snow and mud rushing down mountains and melting quickly to fill rivers and streams beyond capacity. The temperatures have remained a bit cooler, but still relatively warm which has made cleanup efforts easier while accelerating the damage.

"It's really sort of nice," Legg said. "People are reaching out to one another and doing the work. That's something we should see more."

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