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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.

Confirmed Cases: 31503

Reported Deaths: 538
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah6938136
Marion452292
Washington436959
Umatilla292841
Clackamas231461
Malheur157525
Jackson10914
Lane105916
Deschutes78912
Yamhill74514
Jefferson5168
Polk51115
Morrow4906
Linn48013
Lincoln47513
Union4352
Benton2886
Klamath2772
Wasco2733
Hood River2480
Douglas2213
Josephine1942
Columbia1551
Coos1470
Clatsop1270
Baker912
Crook611
Tillamook510
Curry310
Lake280
Wallowa281
Sherman180
Harney120
Gilliam80
Grant80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 796436

Reported Deaths: 15291
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2633336423
Riverside576951173
San Bernardino53121908
Orange525381176
San Diego45425767
Kern31647357
Fresno27944362
Sacramento21800393
Alameda20839395
Santa Clara20648300
San Joaquin20060434
Stanislaus16425342
Contra Costa16156202
Tulare15782257
Ventura12507146
Imperial11658317
San Francisco1090199
San Mateo9664144
Monterey964570
Santa Barbara8952111
Merced8803140
Kings754477
Sonoma7225120
Marin6620114
Solano623260
Madera442465
Placer352343
San Luis Obispo345327
Butte277640
Yolo277355
Santa Cruz22838
Sutter168610
Napa165213
San Benito131411
Yuba11337
El Dorado10784
Mendocino88718
Shasta75114
Lassen7360
Glenn5683
Tehama5294
Nevada5256
Colusa5226
Lake51611
Humboldt4906
Calaveras31414
Amador28716
Tuolumne2264
Inyo18714
Mono1652
Siskiyou1630
Del Norte1381
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc250
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
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