"The wind meter broke" at 81 mph
Monday's storm hit hardest in Southwest Washington, where hurricane-force winds and relentless rainfall downed countless trees and caused...
Seattle Times reporters
- Photo Gallery | Returning to the flood's aftermath
- Photo Gallery | Images of the storm
- Photo Gallery | Reader storm photos
- Photo Gallery | Chehalis River flood
- Photo Gallery | Flooding in Southwest Washington
- Coast Guard video | Search-and-rescue
- A changing watershed floods ... Again (PDF)
- Slide-prone areas in Seattle (PDF)
- Areas affected by the storm (PDF)
- Chehalis-Centralia flood problem (PDF)
- Map | The Road South with Haley Edwards
Monday's storm hit hardest in Southwest Washington, where hurricane-force winds and relentless rainfall downed countless trees and caused numerous mudslides and floods.
The storm was being blamed for at least two deaths in the region.
In western Lewis County, officials deployed divers, boat teams and helicopters to rescue more than 50 people stranded by fast-rising floodwaters on the Chehalis River.
In one incident, someone on a Jet Ski rescued several children who were marooned on a roof that had been sheared off from a house. As the roof continued floating down the river with some adults on top, another boat rescued them, according to Lewis County officials.
By nightfall, as most rescue efforts were suspended, there were still some 75 people emergency workers were unable to reach.
"Right now we're overwhelmed," Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield said late Monday afternoon. "You can never keep on hand enough resources to handle a situation like this."
Out on the coast, high winds caused much of the damage.
"It's the worst blow I've seen since the  Columbus Day storm," said Chuck Winn, manager of Sid's Supermarket in Long Beach, Pacific County. "And this one is lasting a lot longer than that one did."
In Grays Harbor County, Dave Johnson, captain at the Aberdeen Police Department, said sustained winds were recorded at 81 mph.
"They might have gone higher than that, but the wind meter broke at that point," Johnson said. "There are a lot of roofs that have been completely ripped off homes and businesses."
Two storm-related deaths were reported in Grays Harbor County.
In Aberdeen, one man was reported killed while he and some neighbors were trying to cut up a tree that had fallen on the road in front of his house. Another tree fell and hit him, officials said. Another man with an undisclosed medical condition died apparently as a result of the power outage, said county spokeswoman Lynn O'Conner.
O'Conner said there were also numerous injuries, including two electric-utility workers who were hurt — one seriously in a 40-foot fall — when a windblown tree hit a lift-truck bucket late Sunday night.
The winds finally began to subside late Monday afternoon, but floodwaters continued to rise and were not expected to peak until late today.
The full extent of the damage was difficult to gauge. With so many roads closed, most coastal towns were cut off from each other and from the outside world. Widespread power and phone outages added to the isolation.
In Lewis County, the biggest problem was the Chehalis River, which flows from the hill country of Southwest Washington east toward Interstate 5.
Small towns in the western part of the county, such as Pe Ell, Curtis, Doty and Boistfort, were particularly hard-hit. "Just about everywhere out there is under water," said Matt Wallace, spokesman at Lewis County's emergency-operations center. A 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 was closed to all but emergency traffic.
The river is forecast to peak at record flood levels sometime today near Chehalis and cause widespread flooding, said Mansfield, the sheriff.
The raging river forced people onto porches and rooftops to escape the floodwaters.
Out on the coast, it was the wind that wreaked the most havoc.
By late Monday, 90 percent of Grays Harbor County and much of Pacific County were without power. Officials warned that it will be days before power is restored.
In Montesano, residents were urged to boil their tap water because the city's reservoir was badly damaged by the storm. A freight train derailed just outside of Montesano, but officials said it was not carrying any hazardous cargo.
Ralph Thomas: 360-943-9882 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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