Cities across Ore., Wash. deal with flood damage

A 60-year-old woman was killed by a tree that fell on her SE Portland home

Tillamook received substantial flooding in this week's round of storms. (KOIN)
Tillamook received substantial flooding in this week's round of storms. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Though intense rains subsided most of Wednesday, the floods they spawned continue to cause problems throughout Oregon and Washington.

A 60-year-old woman was killed early Wednesday morning when a large tree fell on her SE Portland home.

The tree split the home on SE 91st and Insley in half.

Later in the day, an elderly woman drowned when she and her husband drove around a barricade and into a deep flood zone in Clatskanie.

KOIN CLOSINGS, DELAYS

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in response to a series of storms that began November 30.

I-5 NB near Woodland, Washington closed Wednesday night due to a landslide that created extremely hazardous conditions. Trees and boulders as big as cars tumbled onto the interstate near Dike Road.

Some semi-trucks and cars were trapped overnight, turning highway ramps into parking lots. A shelter was set up for stranded motorists at Woodland High School.

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Water receded Wednesday morning after a night of rescues and evacuations in cities across Cowlitz County.

Major flooding in regions including Kalama, Washington prompted county officials to declare an emergency on Tuesday night.

Several landslides were reported north of Kalama River Road. One landslide wiped out a residence and trapped the homeowner. Dispatch operators said the man was pinned against a wall by rocks and debris.

He was rescued and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Flooding in Kalama, Washington on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. (KOIN)
Flooding in Kalama, Washington on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. (KOIN)

A resident of Camp Kalama RV Park said authorities went door-to-door about 2 hours before the water crested on Tuesday night.

“Once the river eroded over one of the banks we only had, like, 30 minutes and everyone started pulling out,” Jenipher Storms said.

Deputies, state and local police were there, along with a group of tow trucks, to help move as many RVs as possible.

Storms said she was grateful people got out safely.

“We had people in there, from young people like us to old people on oxygen or dialysis,” she said. “Everyone was helping. That was great.”

PHOTOS: Massive floods hit Oregon, Washington

Kalama Mayor Ron Poulsen said all of the city’s flood control pumps are operating at full capacity. One pump reportedly failed Tuesday night.

Numerous local businesses and public service buildings including the police department, fire department and city hall are underwater. Mayor Poulsen said the services were temporarily moved to other locations.

“We are going to be building a berm under the overpass with sandbags so we can pump some of the water that has settled down there,” Mayor Poulsen told KOIN 6 News. “If more rain is coming, and with the high tide coming this afternoon, maybe we can get a jump on it. A hope and a prayer.”

All access in and out of Vernonia, Oregon was cut off for several hours Wednesday morning due to numerous landslides, heavy flooding and a bridge failure.

In St. Helens, Oregon heavy flooding forced several families from their homes.

Milton Creek morphed into a raging river Tuesday night, running over, around and through local driveways, yards and homes at the end of Melvin Avenue.

Milton Creek in St. Helens flooded, Dec. 9, 2015 (Cheryl Wright)
Milton Creek in St. Helens flooded, Dec. 9, 2015 (Cheryl Wright)

“It was about midnight when we noticed the water was in the culdesac and you could watch it rising,” St. Helens resident Ed Miller said.

Miller, who has lived in the area for 21 years, says the water rose higher and faster than during The Great Flood of 1996.

A number of locals said the fire department paid them a visit Tuesday night, warning them about rising water and dropping off sandbags.

Tillamook, Oregon along the coast received substantial flooding in this week’s round of storms. But locals say it’s something they’re used to.

“We’re pretty good at this,” Tillamook County Sheriff Andy Long said. “We’ve had a lot of floods.”

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The Tillamook Cheese Factory closed Wednesday due to heavy flooding.

US-101 south of Seaside was devoured by flood water, only allowing for trucks or SUVs to get through. High tide pushed many rivers over the limit on Wednesday.

In downtown Nehalem at US-101 and 7th Street, water levels crept up to the sides of businesses. Nehalem Fire Chief Perry Sherbaugh warned people not to test the roads.

“Best thing to do is stay home and off the roads,” Chief Sherbaugh said. “Some roads look normal but they are undermined, so if you drive over them they can cave in… Right now we are pretty isolated, so don’t do stupid things because we may not be able to get to you.”

Flooding in Rockaway Beach, Dec. 9, 2015 (COURTESY Marilyn Elkins)
Flooding in Rockaway Beach, Dec. 9, 2015 (Marilyn Elkins)

Rockaway Beach along the Oregon coast also received substantial flooding.

ODOT urged drivers to delay travel in Columbia, Clatsop and Tillamook Counties where multiple landslides were reported Wednesday morning. You can check for road closures on ODOT’s website.

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