Storm drenches region; rescuers "overwhelmed"
Seattle Times staff reporter
- 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
Efforts will resume today to rescue people from flood-stricken homes in Southwest Washington after Monday's regionwide storm killed two, severed major highways, isolated communities and closed scores of roads and businesses.
A 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 south of Olympia will remain closed until at least late today, and possibly into Wednesday, according to state transportation officials. The initial detour around the flooded highway, through Yakima, also was changed because of flooding on Highway 97. The detour as of late Monday took drivers through the Tri-Cities, turning the usual 165-mile Seattle-to-Portland drive into a 440-mile journey.
Snowslides also closed highways across Stevens and Snoqualmie passes, although both were reopened by Monday evening.
In Seattle, more than 4 inches of rain -- enough water to fill Green Lake six times, according to Mayor Greg Nickels -- fell in a 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Monday. It swamped streets, intersections and basements and forced the closure of Nathan Hale High School until Thursday.
The deluge far exceeded the capacity the city's drainage systems were designed to handle, the mayor said.
Firefighters had to use rafts to carry out residents from four Northgate apartment buildings at Midvale Avenue North and North 107th Street because water was as deep as 10 feet, said Helen Fitzpatrick, a Fire Department spokeswoman. She said one of the apartment building's parking garages was completely underwater.
Among the roads closed in Seattle were Golden Gardens Drive Northwest -- expected to remain closed for several months -- as well as portions of Perkins Lane West, Beach Drive Southwest, Lake Washington Boulevard and North 107th Street.
Suburban highways and roads also disappeared under torrents of water. Mudslides halted Amtrak passenger-train service between Portland and Seattle. Slides also cut Sound Transit's Sounder train service between Seattle and Everett; the line will remain closed today.
The 3.77 inches of rainfall at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for the 24 hours that ended at midnight Monday fell far short of the one-day 5.02-inch record set Oct. 20, 2003, but other spots were far soggier. In Bremerton, a record 10.78 inches of rain fell in 24 hours ending at 4 p.m. Monday, washing out a two-lane bridge on Chico Way Northwest.
"The rest of the week will seem benign by comparison," said Chris Burke of the National Weather Service, noting that just a few tenths of an inch of rain are expected today.
But the effects of Monday's storm that also cut power to about 80,000 homes and businesses continue to pose challenges.
Gov. Christine Gregoire, declaring a statewide emergency, said Monday, "We are very concerned about what Mother Nature has in store for us -- not just in the next 24 hours, but literally up to Thursday."
Up to 300 National Guard soldiers were being called up to help with relief efforts as officials monitored rising river levels around Western Washington. Shelters were set up to help evacuees in Grays Habor and Lewis counties and in some hard-hit areas of King County.
Aberdeen was virtually isolated by the storm as floodwaters covered all major roadways into the town.
The Chehalis River in Southwest Washington was causing the most serious flooding, but the Skokomish River in Mason County, the Satsop in Grays Harbor County and the Bogachiel and Elwha in Clallam County also are expected to flow higher than ever before.
In King and Snohomish counties, significant flooding was expected on the Snoqualmie, Snohomish and Tolt rivers.
Two deaths were reported in Grays Harbor County. A man in Aberdeen died when a tree fell on him as he was clearing another downed tree. A second person died from an undetermined medical problem after power was lost. Two county electrical workers were injured when a tree hit their truck.
West of Olympia, a mudslide wiped out a landmark eatery, the Ranch House BBQ, off Highway 8 near Summit Lake. A section of the highway will be closed indefinitely, officials said.
About 30 people were evacuated from the Archstone Waterford Place apartments in Woodinville after floodwaters from Little Bear Creek began pouring into the ground-floor units Monday afternoon. Firefighters scooped up pets from waist-deep water and pulled people to safety in a life raft.
The complex was fine when fire crews cruised by at 11:30 a.m., but "an hour and a half later, it was 4 feet underwater," said Woodinville Fire and Life Safety Lt. Tony Woods.
About 20 residents were staying the night about two blocks away at Carol Edwards Community Center.
Local emergencies were declared in Bothell and Kenmore. Evacuations were called at several locations, including the North Creek Business Park because of rapidly rising water. The city of Bothell was asking for volunteers to help with sandbagging.
In Seattle, a landslide blocked the 2400 block of Westlake Avenue. The Jackson Park Golf Course in North Seattle was partly flooded.
Utility managers in Seattle said a new million-gallon stormwater-detention pond in the Madison Valley area appeared to be working. It was installed after Madison Valley resident Kate Fleming drowned in her basement when stormwater rushed in last December.
In Lynnwood, about 40 residents of the Wilshire Cove Apartments at 200th Street Southwest and 50th Avenue West were being evacuated. Most residents left to stay with family or friends.
Five of the 10 buildings at the complex had up to 2 feet of water in the bottom floor. The flooding occurred because Scriber Creek and Scriber Lake weren't able to handle all the water flowing into them.
The damage was similar throughout Oregon, where Gov. Ted Kulongoski also declared a state of emergency as residents there dealt with flooding, power outages, landslides and blocked highways. Abby Kershaw of Oregon Emergency Management said communications are so bad it is not certain how many people have been evacuated.
Off the Washington coast, a state-funded rescue tugboat was called to the aid of the 720-foot container ship Kauai, damaged Monday by a massive wave near Cape Flattery.
Waves broke out the wheelhouse windows, damaged electronic equipment and knocked out the ship's main steering system, Department of Ecology officials said.
The tugboat Gladiator escorted the freighter and its crew of about 20 from the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Angeles.
Times staff reporters Andrew Garber, Linda Shaw, Ashley Bach, Susan Gilmore, Keith Ervin, Hal Bernton, Brian Alexander, Warren Cornwall, Christopher Schwarzen, Angel Gonzalez and Ralph Thomas and The Times archives contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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