PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 20-mile stretch of I-5 in Washington has reopened Friday afternoon but parts of Lewis County remain under concerns of flooding as two rivers have yet to crest.
I-5 was closed for hours from milepost 68 to 88 in Washington, between Grand Mound and Highway 12 south of Chehalis. WSDOT officials initially told drivers they were best off delaying travel plans entirely as all alternate routes were also under flood watches.
Officials said all lanes of the highway have reopened, although areas of Lewis County are still being flooded.
Local first responders conducted 21 water rescues Friday in Chehalis, Centralia and Lewis County.
The Skookumchuck River is heavily flooding part of Centralia. According to the Lewis County Department of Emergency Management, three separate rivers are being monitored.
Officials said the Newaukum has already crested, but both the Skookumchuck and Chehalis Rivers are flooded.
The Skookumhuck is expected to crest around 10 p.m. tonight, and some officilas say it could happen even sooner. The Chehalis is expected to crest six hours later in the early hours of the morning.
A KOIN 6 News crew visited homes where water is getting dangerously close to seeping in — or has already ruined the owners’ outdoor structures.
“Unfortunately, this is the highest I’ve ever seen it. We’ve been here for six years – it’s coming into our driveways, which I’m concerned about – and its flooded our sheds and our back yard and it’ not stopping,” resident Jessica Beckstead said.
In downtown Centralia, the National Guard and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are filling sandbags at a rate of about 900 an hour. They are free to take, and residents can simply pick them up and go.
Aerial photos posted to social media by Washington State Patrol Trooper Will Finn showed a long traffic backup on I-5 in the area and flooding nearly breaching the Chehalis Airport runways.
Washington State Route 6 near Adna and SR 6 near Littell are also dealing with severe floods as shown in the photos.