Eastern Oregon flooding starts to abate

Weather

Umatilla residents could need to shelter in place 'for weeks'

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – A Red Cross official says waters covering roads in flood-hit northeastern Oregon are starting to recede, allowing residents who spent the night in shelters or with friends to return and assess the damage.

Earlier, some residents in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in northeast Oregon had to be airlifted by from their flooded homes by helicopter as rain and melting snow caused rivers to crest their banks. The rain had stopped by Saturday morning, but more was forecast before sunny weather comes on Sunday.

The Red Cross Cascades office tweeted 25 people stayed in shelters in Pendleton and Walla Walla Friday night into Saturday.

The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office said there are still roads closed in the Milton-Freewater area, with additional closures in other spots of the county. Anyone with non-emergency questions can call 541.966.3671.

Residents in northern Umatilla County were warned they could be stranded for a significant period of time due to the recent flooding from the Umatilla River.

Rescue crews were on the ground and in the air on Saturday to not only remove people from dangerous situations, but also to help residents assess whether they are able to “shelter in place” for several weeks.

Officials from the county’s Flood Joint Information Center and Umatilla County Sheriff’s deputies said anyone needing help should wave to the helicopter crews making rounds on Saturday.

Emergency evacuation notices were issued Friday to people living in the northeastern part of the county. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties where severe flooding, snowmelt, erosion and landslides have pummeled the region.

Many roads remain closed by landslides, flooding and fallen trees in parts of Washington.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report

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