Heavy rains fuel flooding across western Oregon, Seattle ices over

Heavy rains fuel flooding across western Oregon, Seattle ices over »Play Video
Streets are filled with water Thursday morning in Salem.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Heavy rain and melting snow pushed rivers and creeks past their banks overnight Wednesday and into Thursday, prompting flood preparations and evacuations up and down the Willamette Valley.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued flooding warnings and watches for numerous areas stretching from the western Cascades to the Oregon Coast. Over 5,000 people were without power Thursday morning, according to PGE's website.

The Associated Press reports that many of the people in the Willamette Valley town Scio are being evacuated because of rising water. City Manager Ginger Griffith says the water is pouring down Main Street and "we need to get people out."

She says about 870 people live in Scio, which is east of Albany, and about three-quarters are expected to leave. Residents are being notified by an automated dialing system, and a church has been designated as a refuge.

In Seattle, busy Sea-Tac airport halted all flights Thursday morning due to heavy ice on runways as an ice storm enveloped the Puget Sound region and the National Weather Service issued a rare ice storm warning. The airport shutdown also affected travelers in Portland as 15 flights were canceled early Thursday morning at PDX.

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire declared a state of emergency as the winter weather hammered the Puget Sound area Thursday morning.

One of the biggest trouble spots in Oregon is the state capital, Salem, which received almost five inches of rain since Monday and three inches in the last 24 hours, according to KATU Meteorologist Rhonda Shelby.

Some Salem residents saw water creep into basements and garages overnight. Thursday could bring another inch or two of rain to the city, Shelby said.

A school bus hit high water and was disabled in the city Thursday morning. No injuries were reported and another bus was dispatched to get the students to school, officials said.

Many streets and parking lots in Salem were under water and police have closed some streets in the city due to high water. Officials at the Oregon Department of Transportation were busy tweeting out flooded and closed road information for locations across the state Thursday morning.

In a near repeat of an incident that took place Wednesday in Portland, another tree fell across Highway 43 just south of the Sellwood Bridge, blocking all lanes of the busy corridor between Lake Oswego and the metro area, according to KATU Traffic reporter Michael Convery.

Firefighters and rescue personnel in Albany confirmed they had recovered the remains of a child after a vehicle was swept away from a parking lot of a grocery store and into a canal there Wednesday evening. 

The 20-month-old child, Aiden McLaughlin, was missing from the vehicle, which has not yet been found and may be submerged in a culvert under city streets. The deceased child's mother, Catherine McLaughlin, 18, is still missing.

Two others in the vehicle, Christopher Wilgus, 24, of Albany and his son, Maliki, 5, were able to escape. A man who tried to pull them from the car said he and another man broke a window to help the passengers escape as the vehicle filled with water.

Residents along the Mohawk River near Springfield were urged to evacuate the area, the Lane County Sheriff's Office said early Thursday morning.

The heavy rain is being fueled by a wet and windy storm that blew into the region Wednesday after snow blanketed much of the Northwest on Tuesday and Wednesday. Locations east of the Cascades were still battling winter conditions and heavy snowfall.

Shelby said more heavy rain is on the way for Thursday with lighter rain on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.