Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

East of Pacific County, Hwy 6 towns on way to Chehalis, Centralia in Lewis County

Flood Damage Continues to Mount

By The Chronicle, Centralia, Lewis County, Dec 3, 2007

Helicopters are rescuing people from rooftops in Pe Ell and transporting them to Pe Ell High School, as pounding rains have turned much of West Lewis County into a flood zone.

Interstate 5 through most of Lewis County, from Exit 88 to Exit 68, has been closed as the devastating Pe Ell-area flooding moves down the Chehalis River through Adna toward Chehalis and Centralia.

“I-5 will be closed for a minimum of 36 hours, likely longer,” Barbara Ivanov of the DOT’s freight division wrote in an “urgent” e-mail to truckers.

The freeway will remain closed as crews wait for the Chehalis River to recede at milepost 77-79 and Dillenbaugh Creek to recede at milepost 74, the Washington State Department of Transportation reported at 4:15 p.m. today.

Detour routes send Interstate 5 drivers to Yakima to travel between Portland and Seattle. Both Highway 7 and Highway 12 have been closed to freight traffic as detours.

Amtrak service has also been suspended through Western Washington, and a freight train is reported to be stalled near Chehalis on tracks surrounded by floodwaters.

The Chehalis River is expected to crest at Mellen Street in Centralia at 10 a.m. Tuesday at 74.67 feet — a few inches higher than the worst floods ever recorded in the Twin Cities, in February 1996. As of 5 p.m., the river was at 64.5 feet.

The floods have already caused major infrastructure damage.

An earthen dike broke at the Newaukum River at Exit 72 in Napavine, reportedly sending four feet of water into the area around Burger King, McDonalds and the Bethel Church of the Assemblies of God. The underpass at the Rush Road Exit is flooded.

“The whole surrounding business area is underwater,” Lewis County Emergency Operations Center Public Information Officer Matt Wallace said at 3:15 p.m. today.

Several bridges have been washed out between Adna and Pe Ell, including the vehicle bridge into Rainbow Falls State Park, the Meskill bridge between River Road and Leudinghouse Road at Dryad, as well as the bridge at Chandler Road near Highway 6.

The Rainbow Falls bridge “is no longer there. It’s completely wiped out,” Wallace, also a Lewis County sheriff’s detective, said from the county’s emergency operations center at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis.

The town of Pe Ell faces a water shortage because a water transmission line was destroyed when a bridge washed out. The pumping station for the community’s back-up water source was not accessible because of high water. The 1,300 people served by the town’s water system were being told to conserve water because of the limited amount of drinkable water in the town’s reservoir. The town of Ryderwood was without water this morning because of a broken water main in the system serving 450 people.

Rumors are swirling as well, including a false report by the Associated Press of two fatalities in Chehalis. The AP is now reporting two deaths were actually in Grays Harbor County.

“Everyone we’ve been told about we’ve been able to make contact with or maintain contact with until we’ve gotten them out,” Wallace said.

He said two or three helicopters, at least one of them from the Seattle area, have been rescuing people from their roofs in the Pe Ell area and taking them to the Pe Ell School. The helicopters have been locating people using GPS coordinates provided by local emergency responders, Wallace said.

Evacuations have been requested in most of the Boistfort, Pe Ell and Doty areas in the area of the upper Chehalis River.

In East Lewis County, evacuations have also been ordered at High Valley 6 in Packwood and in low-lying roads along the Cowlitz River between Packwood and Randle, including Cline Road and Bennett Road.

…………….. end

Rivers Run Wild

article at The Chronicle, Centralia, Lewis County, Dec 4, 2007

Military helicopters buzzed over much of West Lewis County Monday and overnight, and boats plied muddy floodwaters from Pe Ell to Centralia as rescue efforts continued during the worst flooding ever recorded in the Upper Chehalis River.

Interstate 5 was closed Monday afternoon and by this morning was under as much as 10 feet of water. The freeway could remain locked down until Thursday, officials say. As of this morning, only a twisting, hilly route from Centralia-Alpha Road to Seminary Hill connected Chehalis and Centralia.

The Chehalis River was expected to crest this morning at 10 a.m. in Centralia about a foot above the record February 1996 flood levels. The water inundated much of the Twin Cities, from Chehalis through the “Miracle Mile” to Centralia.

The slow-moving crest of Chehalis River flooding is moving downstream toward Grand Mound, where dive teams and boats were staging this morning in the Moon Road area of Southwest Thurston County, with three rescues already conducted as of about 9 a.m., according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Widespread Inundation

Floodwater reportedly overtopped, broke or circumvented an earthen dike at the Newaukum River at Exit 72 in Napavine Monday morning, reportedly sending four feet of water into the area around Burger King, McDonalds and the Bethel Church of the Assemblies of God and flooding the Rush Road underpass.

Water also overtopped the Long Road dike, flooding much of South Centralia.

Several bridges have been washed out between Adna and Pe Ell, including the vehicle bridge into Rainbow Falls State Park, the Meskill bridge between River Road and Leudinghouse Road at Dryad, as well as the bridge at Chandler Road near Highway 6.

The Rainbow Falls bridge “is no longer there. It’s completely wiped out,” Lewis County Emergency Operations Center Public Information Officer Matt Wallace said at 3:15 p.m. Monday from the county’s emergency operations center at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis.

Amtrak service was also suspended through Western Washington, and a freight train was reported to be stalled near Chehalis on tracks surrounded by floodwaters Monday.

The town of Pe Ell faces a water shortage because a water transmission line was destroyed when a bridge washed out. The pumping station for the community’s back-up water source was not accessible because of high water. The 1,300 people served by the town’s water system were being told to conserve water because of the limited amount of drinkable water in the town’s reservoir. The town of Ryderwood was without water this morning because of a broken water main in the system serving 450 people.

Medical Issues

There were no confirmed deaths from the floodwaters, but a Winlock man was reported missing Monday after trying to repair a sump pump under his home.

At least a half-dozen people suffering from hypothermia were bought to Providence Centralia Hospital as of this morning.

“We’ve airlifted several elderly people overnight who were in water inside their homes wet,” said Lewis County Sheriff’s Office det. Sgt. Stacy Brown.

Rumors were swirling as well, including a false report by the Associated Press of two fatalities in Chehalis. The AP corrected its report to say the two deaths were actually in Grays Harbor County.

“Everyone we’ve been told about we’ve been able to make contact with or maintain contact with until we’ve gotten them out,” Wallace said.

Get Out

Evacuations were requested in most of the Boistfort, Pe Ell and Doty areas in the upper Chehalis River Monday, and part of South Centralia this morning.

In East Lewis County, evacuations were also ordered Monday at High Valley 6 in Packwood and in low-lying roads along the Cowlitz River between Packwood and Randle, including Cline Road and Bennett Road.

The Cowlitz River in Randle crested below flood stage this morning.

Rescues

As of Monday, from 50 to 70 people had been rescued, many plucked from rooftops and transported to temporary shelters in schools from Pe Ell to Adna.

In Centralia, approximately 30 patients have been evacuated from the Guest Only Care Center on South Tower Avenue and Tiffin House near Centralia High School. Also, residents of Evergreen Centralia Health and Rehabilitation on Long Road were evacuated. Those too ill to go to shelters were transported to Olympia, according to Centralia Fire Capt. Scott Snyder.

Chehalis Firefighter Jay Birley wasn’t certain of nursing homes being evacuated in Chehalis.

Calls for service were constant until about 1:30 a.m. today in Chehalis, and then slowed, Birley said.

Firefighters used boats to pick people from the roofs of at least two cars in the Wal-Mart parking lot about 9 p.m. on Monday.

For more information on the flooding in the Twin Cities, check chronline.com throughout the day for updates.

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