‘Devastating:’ Residents return home to inspect flood damage as rivers recede

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THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. -- Water is receding from rivers across the Pacific Northwest after a series of rainstorms caused devastating flood damage.

As of Sunday, the Green River was at phase 3 which means water is receding but levels are still high.

For some other rivers, King County was reporting the Cedar River at phase 4 (major flooding), the White River at phase 2 (minor flooding), and Tolt and Snoqualmie Rivers at phase 1.

Issaquah is one of the areas hit the hardest. Officials there told hundreds of residents to evacuate last week. Nearly a dozen people were rescued from an apartment building after a waterlogged culvert failed.

Issaquah Creek's water level appears to be dropping back down to normal levels, but a massive cleanup effort is now underway. Some progress was made over the weekend to reopen some area roads.

People living in Olympia along the Nisqually River began returning home to see the damage floodwaters have caused.

Residents told Q13 News that they have not seen water get this high in more than 20 years.

"We don't have much of a home to go back to," said Corey Mathis, who lives near the Nisqually River. "Everything is covered in mud and we had about a foot-and-a-half of water."

"It was pretty devastating," he said. "Everything is pretty much a complete loss."

State of Emergency

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued an updated emergency proclamation on Friday for 20 counties because of damage from storms that are forecast to continue into the weekend.

King County Executive Dow Constantine signed an emergency declaration Thursday to speed up response. A small number of National Guard troops were assisting residents near hard-hit Carnation, Washington.

Seventeen rivers in western Washington had reached flood stage, authorities said. Many rivers were starting to recede by Saturday morning.

People living in an apartment building in Issaquah were evacuated Thursday after Issaquah Creek breached its banks and began running under the building.

Snow levels dropped and heavy snow fell in the Cascade Mountains through Saturday. Winds also pick up late Friday into Saturday causing thousands of power outages.

Heavy rains forced the closure of Mount Rainier National Park overnight. Park staff said mudslides, flooding and damaged roads cut off all access. Officials were working to evacuate guests and staff from the park.

The closure of SR 410 also forced the closure of Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. That area alone had four landslides this week. The most recent incident took down power lines. It's unclear when the highway will reopen.

I-84 closure along Washington-Oregon border

Floodwaters covering roads in northeastern Oregon were starting to recede, allowing residents to return and assess the damage.

An approximately 10-mile stretch of Interstate 84 south of Hermiston, Oregon, remained closed Sunday due to flood damage and authorities say it could be a week before it reopens. A detour is in place.

Oregon National Guard troops aboard two helicopters airlifted 21 people to safety on Saturday, and authorities reported a 62-year-old woman who lived in one of the areas hit by floods was missing.

The forecast was for mostly sunny skies and no rain Sunday and Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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