Governor declares state of emergency as widespread flooding plays havoc in northeastern Oregon

Authorities have shut down highways and roads, ordering evacuations for some areas have been hit especially hard by the flooding.

Posted: Feb 7, 2020 2:51 PM
Updated: Feb 7, 2020 3:29 PM

PENDLETON, Ore. — Multiple highways were shut down and some people forced to evacuate as a surge of flooding hit swathes of northeastern Oregon on Friday, prompting Governor Brown to declare a state of emergency.

The emergency declaration came down on Friday afternoon, covering Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa counties.

"Fast-moving, severe floods have required the evacuation of residences and shut down critical roads in northeastern Oregon. I am grateful for all of our first responders for their efforts to keep our families safe since the waters began rising," Governor Brown said. "This emergency declaration ensures state resources, emergency response personnel, and equipment can be activated to complement critical local resources as this situation progresses."

I-84, the major thoroughfare that runs from Portland all the way through Idaho, was completely underwater in spots.

"Snowmelt, slides and historically high river levels are the factors causing flooding hazards and high water issues on and along Oregon highways and roads throughout eastern Oregon," the Oregon Department of Transportation said.

Landslides had been dumping rock and mud into waterways and ditches — causing culverts intended to prevent this kind of flooding to become jammed, the agency said.

Continuing snowmelt and rain were expected to continue into Saturday.

"In addition to all the ongoing flooding, we have a cold front swinging through late tonight into tomorrow," the National Weather Service said in regards to the Columbia River Basin area. "Expect mountain snow with a few light basin rain showers."

Agencies reported flooding around Hermiston, Pendleton, and La Grande. The westbound lanes of I-84 were closed from Hermiston to Ontario at the Idaho border, with a smaller closure on the eastbound side near Hermiston.

"Our I-84 closures are expected to remain in place for a significant amount of time," ODOT said. "Once the water has receded, we'll need to inspect the freeway to assess the amount of damage. Our closure westbound provides a safe refuge for trucks and other travelers where there are facilities and adequate parking that isn't available in the affected area."

Local agencies reported dozens of closures on smaller roads along that stretch. The Umatilla County Sheriff's Office issued evacuations on the Umatilla Reservation, and the Pendleton Police Department reported similar evacuations.

Helicopter crews from the Oregon Army National Guard were helping with search and rescue efforts in areas of Umatilla County, reportedly rescuing four people who were stranded on top of their house Thursday evening. On Friday morning, helicopter crews saved four more civilians and two Swift Water Rescue crew members who had become stranded.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all personnel aiding in the search and rescue efforts and to all those affected by this disaster," the Oregon National Guard said. "Excellent job Guardsmen! Always ready always there!"

Governor Brown's declaration directs the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to coordinate the deployment of the state agencies to support local communities as needed.

"OEM will facilitate the access and use of state resources, personnel, and equipment to protect communities, property, and the environment, and aid in the recovery from flooding," the Governor's Office said. "The state of emergency will remain in effect for thirty days."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 195684

Reported Deaths: 2587
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah38714593
Washington25787233
Marion22229308
Clackamas17677214
Lane13128149
Jackson10953140
Deschutes918074
Umatilla823684
Linn501768
Klamath450664
Yamhill449676
Polk378853
Malheur353063
Josephine337071
Douglas329871
Benton312720
Jefferson222037
Coos208935
Columbia175929
Union145123
Lincoln138821
Wasco138128
Hood River119631
Crook113822
Morrow111116
Clatsop9948
Baker95914
Tillamook6523
Curry64610
Grant5236
Lake4557
Harney3488
Wallowa1855
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3768805

Reported Deaths: 62690
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123741124115
Riverside2997934594
San Bernardino2971654724
San Diego2790983742
Orange2712515031
Santa Clara1190602096
Kern1092981376
Sacramento1049581691
Fresno1019571690
Alameda881481668
Ventura810331017
San Joaquin733101394
Contra Costa68976805
Stanislaus622491061
Tulare49830840
Monterey43662383
San Mateo42059570
San Francisco36795546
Santa Barbara34391459
Solano32974253
Merced31919461
Sonoma30067321
Imperial28504729
Kings23017246
Placer22688292
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16482242
Santa Cruz16264206
Marin14079227
Yolo13932211
Shasta12175226
Butte12095192
El Dorado10193113
Napa988782
Sutter9441113
Yuba628549
San Benito606863
Lassen570624
Tehama559063
Nevada475575
Tuolumne413967
Mendocino410849
Humboldt408042
Amador366647
Lake348543
Glenn240025
Siskiyou225525
Colusa223616
Calaveras213654
Inyo142838
Del Norte13988
Mono12844
Plumas7186
Modoc5014
Mariposa4507
Trinity4025
Sierra1120
Alpine880
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