PORTLAND, Ore. – Another in a series of dramatic storms swept through the Pacific Northwest, but forecasters say the downpours that have left two people dead, flooded rivers and caused mudslides, including one that blocked a major north-south freeway, were tapering off Thursday.
Drivers on Interstate 5 just 26 miles north of Portland, Oregon, have been stranded since Wednesday afternoon after northbound lanes were swamped by a massive landslide triggered by days of pounding rain.
Residents throughout western Washington and Oregon were assessing damage Wednesday from the heavy rains and strong winds when another storm hit that night, cutting power to more residents and businesses.
People who live along the Snoqualmie River in Washington state are used to waters cresting the banks but the storms that slammed the Pacific Northwest this week were more intense and destructive than the locals have seen in some time.
"This year, we've already had three or four floods already," Eric West said in Fall City, 25 miles east of Seattle. "This one is the worst." Forecasters say more rain is on the way Thursday and through the weekend.
On Wednesday afternoon, a woman was found dead inside a vehicle in knee-to-waist deep water in Clatskanie, Oregon, after firefighters rescued a man found standing on top of the car.
In Portland, a large Douglas fir tree crashed into a home early Wednesday, killing a 60-year-old woman who was in bed.
Dennis Elleson told The Oregonian his wife, Roberta "Bobbi" Elleson, had moved to a different bedroom to sleep a few hours before.
"I ran in the bedroom and she was moaning," Dennis Elleson told the newspaper. "I went to her side and told her, `Hang on. Hang on."'
He said he couldn't move the tree and tried to find a place for her to get air, but it was too late.
In western Washington, seven people were swept into the Puyallup River from a riverbank homeless camp Wednesday morning.
Someone called 911 around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday to report that people were in the river up to their waists and chests beneath the State Route 512 overpass.
Nearby, a small RV park was evacuated Wednesday morning as floodwaters stranded several vehicles.
Firefighters went vehicle-to-vehicle to check on occupants and some people were evacuated by boat. The camp was a temporary home for several dozen RVs and camper-trailers.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency, directing the Washington Military Department to coordinate a response.