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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: 392197

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60432839
Washington42082398
Marion39986507
Clackamas32861382
Lane30179358
Jackson24956361
Deschutes23639185
Umatilla15135182
Linn14704179
Douglas13438292
Josephine10201246
Yamhill9787143
Klamath9072147
Polk8248102
Benton611138
Malheur592790
Coos5693107
Columbia433356
Jefferson420866
Lincoln363852
Union339255
Crook336356
Wasco317046
Clatsop262735
Baker220833
Tillamook217045
Hood River214537
Morrow197825
Curry192439
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105616
Wallowa76013
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5087907

Reported Deaths: 74561
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152858627184
San Diego4074794340
Riverside3880835358
San Bernardino3748555967
Orange3346265736
Sacramento1684922447
Kern1578751804
Fresno1568972259
Santa Clara1522681929
Alameda1252361507
San Joaquin1076041834
Ventura1040841191
Contra Costa1038691046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare861371099
San Francisco56931672
San Mateo56354629
Monterey52521626
Solano47693358
Santa Barbara47345553
Merced45086668
Sonoma43207412
Placer42204470
Imperial38516773
Kings35221362
San Luis Obispo31511360
Madera26233311
Shasta26113458
Butte25476318
Santa Cruz22268224
Yolo21590260
Marin18495249
El Dorado18325166
Sutter14577186
Napa13424105
Yuba1076389
Tehama10282130
Humboldt10183119
Nevada10029105
Mendocino857799
Lassen797656
San Benito782979
Tuolumne774691
Lake7046110
Amador578366
Siskiyou475855
Glenn457436
Calaveras442288
Del Norte376942
Colusa325921
Inyo256746
Plumas19397
Mono18924
Mariposa160718
Trinity99817
Modoc7725
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Unassigned810
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