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Flooding reported throughout Oregon, SW Washington

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the rain continued Tuesday morning and snow began to melt, multiple areas across Oregon and Washington dealt with flooding.

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory Washington County and the surrounding counties.

The Washington County Roads Department reported high water and flooding on at least 40 roads, many of which were closed at some point during the day. 

The department barricaded several roads completely.

“We’ve had a lot of reports of water over the roads, so we’ve been doing some road closures and it’s been pretty wild,” Melissa De Lyser, communications manager for Wash. Co. Department of Land Use and Transportation said. “Even as little as 6 inches can have a significant impact on your travel.”

Forest Grove Fire said flooding was such a problem in the western part of Washington County that there were too many roadways to name.

Highway 30 is also a problem area. Multnomah County deputies said it looked like a waterfall on the side of the road, causing water to flow across the highway.

Those driving in the wet weather should be careful of standing water on the roads and turn around if they see a flooded roadway. In recent years, drivers have disregarded closures — forcing them to be rescued and leaving their cars full of water and mud.

“We have people do that every year and it is extremely dangerous and it’s also illegal,” De Lyser said. “There’s a fine of $250 for people caught doing that.”

Watch: State of emergency declared in Rainier 

A culvert on Fox Creek near Highway 30 in Rainier was overrun even after $275,000 was spent fortifying and restoring it. 

Rainier’s flooding started to recede Tuesday afternoon, but not before a Grocery Outlet parking lot caved in and a church parking lot became a swimming pool. 

The water got so high that it got inside the Riverside Community Church. They had to run pumps all morning after the sandbags they put outside the door failed to keep the water out. 

Students were also sent home at 1 p.m. because the roads were so flooded.

Residents said they haven’t seen flooding like this since 1996, if ever. 

There’s also low visibility, so drivers are advised to leave extra room between cars and give themselves plenty of time to stop.

Flooding is a concern in the area of Johnson Creek and SE Foster Road in Portland. The creek was at 10 feet Tuesday morning, and 11 feet is considered the flood stage. 

 Watch: Flooding concerns in southwest Washington

Cowlitz and Clark counties

Cowlitz County commissioners issued an emergency declaration due to the flooding. So did the city of Kalama due to several inches of water from the rain and snow melt.

In Kalama, Exit 30 off I-5 was closed from flooding at the nearby park. West Frontage Road was also closed. East Frontage Road is closed between Elm Street and Fir Street. 

With concerns about overflowing the sewage system, the city asked residents to limit their use of dishwashers and washing machines to keep water out of the drains. A spokesperson for the Cowlitz County Fire District said that reduction successfully prevented a backup but people are still asked to reduce water use. 

They said the water treatment plant is shut down but the water is safe to drink without boiling.

Kalama residents were also asked to help fill sandbags for those who needed them.

In Ridgefield, several roads were temporarily closed while crews worked to clear the drains and wait for the water to go down in other areas.

Sandbag locations
City of Portland 
Washington County
Clackamas County 
Clark County 

Heavy rain can cause landslides and debris flows in steep areas, especially where there have been fires. 

Standing water was reported in spots along Northwest Cornelius Pass Road from Highway 30 to Skyline Boulevard. A small landslide is blocking the uphill lane on Northwest Rocky Point Road, so drivers are urged to use caution in that area.

The flooding also impacted schools on Tuesday.

Gaston and Yamhill Carlton released students around 12:30 p.m. due to the flooding and road closures. The districts canceled evening activities as well.

At Veterans Park on the banks of the South Scappoose Creek, waters rose and blocked several roads.

Around town, dozens of people dealt with high water and downed trees. Road crews responded as quickly as they could to block off any areas dangerous for drivers.

In St. Helens a few roads were still blocked Tuesday night, including a stretch of Gable Road, where the asphalt was washed out by the current.

“There was so much rain last night, it’s just ridiculous,” resident Donna Bennett said. “It’s by far the highest I’ve seen it in probably 10 to 12 years.”

Property owners like Craig Marquarto of the Creekside Apartments watched nervously to see if a recent creek restoration project had any effect.

“We sandbagged the back of one of the buildings that’s closest to the creek,” he said. “We haven’t had this kind of flooding in the 8 years I’ve been here. This property is 20 years old, and we’ve never had anything close to this.”

A sandbagging station was set up at City Hall.

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