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Originally published January 7, 2009 at 9:22 PM | Page modified January 8, 2009 at 11:19 AM

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Hard to go and hard to stay

As least 50 people were rescued or stranded Wednesday, as downtown Snoqualmie was shut down by flooding.

As least 50 people were rescued or stranded Wednesday, as downtown Snoqualmie was shut down by flooding.

"The waters are coming from both sides of the city," said Joan Pliego, public-information officer for the city of Snoqualmie. All roads leading into town were closed, including long stretches of Highway 202. "People can't get into the city. ... We have been advising them to shelter in place, and we will try to get you by bus or by boat."

But by nightfall, as waters rose, Snoqualmie Fire and Rescue's buses wouldn't cross the water; their boats couldn't cross land. Pliego said rescue crews were trying to get their hands on a duckboat that could traverse both to reach those still in their homes. Shortly before 8 p.m., nine people seeking rescue were told to stay put.

Power was out Wednesday night in parts of Snoqualmie; even the fire station was operating on a generator.

Throughout the Cascade foothills, residents faced rising water and road closures, especially around Carnation, North Bend and Issaquah. Eastside Fire & Rescue undertook water rescues.

Pliego said that, early in the day, the city launched a massive effort to alert hundreds of residents to the threat, with reverse 911 phone calls, e-mails, radio broadcasts and fliers delivered door to door.

"We are hoping that most people are evacuated," she said, adding that "a lot of people try to ride it out."

Sandbags and sand were available at the King Street parking lot downtown. Residents were asked to move household items and valuables up off floors and to upper stories, if possible.

During the day, Linda Perez, 22, looked out at the brown water surrounding her house. Friends helped put sandbags on the property.

"We've moved everything we can to the upper level," she said. "I think we'll just go up there and wait it out if we can."

Marie Richey, 43, left her second-floor apartment at Colonial Square Apartments just before noon for a medical appointment. When she tried to return home, the roads were closed, and rescue workers brought her to a temporary warming shelter at Cascade View Elementary School.

A few hours later, Richey was waiting for a bus to take her to the Red Cross overnight shelter at the Preston Park Community Center. She said she was worried about her 4-year-old tabby, Tigger.

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"He has never been alone overnight," she said.

About eight families had come through the temporary shelter by Wednesday evening; they left to bunk with friends and family or to stay at the Salish Lodge, which offered discounts to stranded neighbors.

Pliego said city workers — fire and rescue, police, public works and parks — were rallying to help. "Everybody is really pitching in," she said. "Tomorrow will be recovery."

North of Snoqualmie, more neighborhoods in the Carnation area were cut off from major roads. Wednesday morning, waters from the Tolt River lapped up against the foundation of John DelCarlo's home just south of Carnation.

"This morning when I got up, I saw a dry field. Then I put the coffee pot on, looked out and it was a wet field," he said. "I'm too old to be doing this," said DelCarlo, 56, as he moved his wood pile to his front porch that for that moment was still several feet above water.

Staff writers Sanjay Bhatt, Jack Broom and Suki Dardarian contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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