40,000 told to flee
Interstate 5 cut off as heavy rain quickly melts snow, swamping towns
The Associated Press,
Warmer temperatures and heavy rains were rapidly melting the deep snow that dumped on the
Nearly 7 inches of rain fell in one 24-hour period at Marblemount in the Cascade foothills. A record 2.29 inches of rain fell Wednesday at
Rising waters led state highway crews to close a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 around Chehalis on Wednesday evening. The state's three major east-west routes across the
Authorities feared Interstate 5, which carries 55,000 vehicles a day, could be closed for days. But they hoped to reopen one of the east-west routes sometime Thursday "to get people moving and freight moving," said Transportation Department spokeswoman Alice Fiman.
The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for about two dozen rivers in western Washington, and Amtrak passenger train service out of
"It's right up there with some of our most memorable flood events," National Weather Service forecaster Doug McDonnal said Thursday.
Drier weather is due Friday, forecasters said, but flooding will remain a problem as overflowing rivers drain. The storm also produced heavy rain and strong winds in northwest
Fire trucks rolled through Orting, about 10 miles southeast of
Kim and Carl Scanson closed their restaurant when Orting police told them of the recommended evacuation. They sent employees home to care for their families.
"It's scary, but everybody works together in this town," Kim Scanson told The News Tribune as she helped pack sandbags around the city's water treatment plant.
Some residents also left their homes in the nearby towns of
Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma declared a civil emergency for his city of about 200,000, south of
State emergency officials said voluntary evacuations were recommended for Snoqualmie, a riverside town 25 miles east of Seattle, and for the southwest Washington towns of Naselle, Packwood and Randle.
Avalanches and rescues
In Orting, several dozen people and a number of pets were rescued by boat Wednesday morning.
Diane Knowles of Eatonville said those rescued included her 81-year-old father-in-law and her brother- and sister-in law, who in past flooding arranged for the family to bring rescue boats.
"It came up so fast this time, there wasn't really time to think about it," she said.
An avalanche of snow and mud about 100 yards wide damaged some weekend recreation homes in the Hyak area east of
The debris field spanned eight houses, including one that was severely damaged, and two occupants of that home were treated for minor injuries.
Chris Caviezel, who has lived at
In Snoqualmie, kayakers paddled in the street as city officials urged residents in the flood plain of the
Rachel Myers stood across a flooded parking lot from her home and waited for her father to pick her up in a boat. She said her family has lived in the house since her great-grandmother built it, but they've decided this will be their last winter there.
"With flood after flood, it just gets more ruined every time," Myers said.
In the east,
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