Raging rivers wreak havoc in Ore., Wash.

Raging rivers wreak havoc in Ore., Wash. »Play Video
In this photo submitted to YouNews by sarahcohen, the infamous "high rocks" on the Clackamas River are completely submerged.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Heavy weekend rains causing landslides and minor flooding in western portions of Washington and Oregon are also taking a human toll with authorities reporting one death related to the storms.

Two people have also been injured as the Pacific weather system swept into the region during the weekend, while two others were rescued after being stranded by high waters, and some evacuations were reported.

The rains in Oregon were pushing some rivers and streams over their banks at a time when many waterways were rising because of warming temperatures and melting snow, with some rivers reaching flood stage and more were expected to rise above that level.

"This was not one of the most significant floods that we've had, but slightly above what we'd classify as a nuisance flood," Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County Emergency Management director, told The Associated Press.

SLIDES CLOSE OREGON HIGHWAYS

Highway 6 in Oregon remained closed Monday morning after numerous trees fell across the highway, which twists through the Coast Range between Tillamook on the coast and the Hillsboro area near Portland.

Highway 20 was also closed Monday 17 miles east of Sweet Home due to "dangerous conditions," according to ODOT. A mudslide near Cascadia reportedly was blocking the highway. ODOT crews were working at first light to clear the road.

Out in the small community of Lolo Pass, Lt. John Creel with the Hoodland Fire Department said about 40 homes were isolated when the Sandy River washed out the Lolo Pass Road bridge Sunday night. Power was also out to the stranded residents.

Lt. Creel said dozens of rescuers were working to create a path through forestland so residents could flee if the water rose higher.

ODOT crews scrambled overnight Sunday to clear a slide on Highway 26 near Government Camp, reopening the road about 4 a.m. Monday after clearing tons of mud, rock and debris from a landslide.

Along the Sandy River near Brightwood, homeowners were evacuated as the raging river cut away at shorelines near rural homes. A total of 65 to 70 homes along the Sandy, Salmon and Zigzag rivers were evacuated due to erosion and flooding concerns.

Residents living along the river reported that hundreds of trees had fallen into the raging rivers, and some were acting as torpedoes as they crashed in to riverbanks and structures build on the shorelines. The powerful currents were also rolling large boulders down the riverbeds, witnesses report the big rocks moving around sounded like thunder at times.

However, rain is expected to taper off to scattered showers Monday, allowing rivers to recede. More rain, although not nearly as heavy, is expected later this week.

Workers survey a landslide that closed Highway 6. No one was injured.

RISING FLOODWATERS STILL A CONCERN IN WASHINGTON

In Washington, heavy rains were causing problems along the Pacific Coast and the Cascades Mountains with flood warnings issued for several waterways, officials and forecasters said.

Minor flooding was reported along several rivers, including the Cedar, Cowlitz, Snohomish, and Tolt.

"Flooding could wind down as early as Monday morning in some areas, but others may not see that until Tuesday," since it takes time for water to flow through some of the bigger rivers, said Dennis D'Amico, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Meanwhile, a veteran Washington State Department of Transportation worker was killed Sunday night by a falling tree on Highway 203 just south of Carnation, said Maintenance Superintendent Jim McBride.

Calling it a "sad night" for the department, McBride said the worker was setting up safety cones to alert motorists to powerlines knocked down by the storm when the tree fell on his truck, causing his death. The name wasn't immediately available.

A rockslide just north of Soap Lake in Washington struck some vehicles and injured two people, said Kyle Foreman, Grant County's public information officer. The slide also forced the closure of State Highway 17.

In Fall City, Wash., two people were rescued unharmed after they drove their car into a flooded road, The Seattle Times reported.

OREGON COAST FLOODING

In Oregon, emergency officials have advised residents of six homes in south Tillamook County to evacuate, the Oregonian reported.

Forecasters said numerous mudslides were reported in the north Oregon coast, including Tillamook County and in the Cascade Range.

"There were a lot of landslides, the most significant of those was Highway 6, which is the road that goes from Tillamook over into the valley for us into Portland," said McCraw, the Tillamook County official.

"Most of the rivers in the county crested above flood stage by about 2 to 3 feet, which caused some flooding of the roadways," he said.

Transportation officials closed U.S. Highway 20 near Cascadia in central Oregon after a landslide brought mud, rock and debris into the road. Landslides also closed sections of three southwest Washington highways, including State Route 14 near Cape Horn, State Route 411 near Hazel Dell Road in Kelso and State Route 508 at Bear Canyon.

Meanwhile, in Washington, fire crews in Randle in the southwest went door-to-door warning residents to watch the rising Cowlitz River and be prepared to evacuate if necessary, Fire Chief Jeff Jaques said Sunday.

Logan Harris, a spokesman with King County Flood Warning Center, said the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers crested Sunday afternoon and were receding.

"It's good news in that the rivers appear to have stabilized," he said. "It doesn't appear that the water levels will increase. There will still be some moderate flooding as the water works its way downstream."

He predicted the crest would reach Carnation in the morning and said residents should expect some moderate flooding and some roads would close.

Forecasters said drier and cooler weather should reach the region by Wednesday.

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AP Reporters Jackie Quinn and Sofia Mannos in Washington contributed to this report.

 

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)