Flooding in Washington State Displaces Hundreds of People, Closes Section of I-5

Emergency officials from Whatcom County, which lies along the Canadian border, were conducting search and rescue missions Monday evening as more than 500 people were displaced from their homes due to flooding in the north and south. northeast of the county, according to a press release from Whatcom told the county sheriff’s office.

“WCSO’s rescue vehicle was able to reach many residents and boats were used in places where the water was too deep. These efforts will continue through the night,” the statement said. Hundreds of residents have been moved to three “quick” shelters in the county, officials said.

Stephanie Koehler in Sumas, Whatcom County, told CNN affiliate KOMO that a boat picked her up from her porch. She was taken to another boat and then taken in a tractor dumpster to a bus.

“We were scared. I mean, this is our first flood,” Koehler told KOMO. She was planning to spend the night in a shelter with her 13-year-old daughter.

Koehler said she and others dropped sandbags, but they were “actually being pushed out of people’s homes and along the river.”

The soggy conditions triggered mudslides in the area, causing the closure in both directions of I-5 to Bellingham, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. The highway is a major artery that runs along the west coast from Mexico to Canada.

In Skagit County, residents of Mount Vernon were asked to evacuate on Monday before an expected record flooding on the Skagit River on Tuesday.

The river topped its major flood level of 32 feet on Monday, reaching 35.35 feet, but appears to have peaked at Mount Vernon on Tuesday morning well below its record of 37.37 feet, Skagit County said in an article on Facebook. The record was set on November 25, 1990.

The National Weather Service also lowered its forecast for the Skagit early Tuesday morning.

“A little bit of good news,” NWS Seattle tweeted to “The Skagit at Mount Vernon is now expected to reach nearly 36 feet this morning. This forecast is more than a foot lower than the previous forecast which was near the all-time high of 37. , 4 feet. “

Parts of the city, about 100 miles north of Seattle, are protected by dikes, and residents of those neighborhoods are advised to keep an eye out for emergency notifications.

“Evacuation is the best option for people to protect themselves in the event of a severe flooding,” a press release from the city said.

Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau declared a state of emergency on Monday, warning the city’s 35,000 residents to “take action over the next 24 to 48 hours to protect their homes, families and property. against flood waters “.

Mount Vernon is under flood warning until Wednesday evening, CNN weather producer Robert Shackelford said. The area has received 2-4 inches of rain over the past 48 hours and could receive an additional 4 inches over the next five days, Shackelford said.

“The forecast rains as well as the rain and snow forecast at mountain elevations are expected to worsen the flooding conditions,” the governor’s emergency proclamation said.

Fourteen counties are covered by the proclamation: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Mason, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom.

“This Severe Weather Emergency Ordinance directs the implementation of the plans and procedures of Washington State’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan,” the statement said.

In County Clallam, 10 people, including four children, were rescued from their homes as flooding encroached on a residential area near Forks.

The evacuations were carried out with the help of Coast Guard helicopter crews, the agency said in a press release.

All known residents of the area have been identified, officials said.

Extreme weather conditions are also impacting electrical infrastructure, leaving more than 55,000 customers in the state without power at 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to PowerOutage.us.

Sumas city officials said the flooding was slowing efforts to restore power.

“Due to high water and numerous public safety concerns, we will not be able to restore power tonight. We hope to be able to restore power tomorrow if possible,” Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen said in a Facebook post. Monday.

“We are very grateful to all of the dispatchers, first responders, city staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help our residents today… Tomorrow morning we will continue to try to gain access to our citizens isolated and to offer help and support as much as we can, ”the post said.

CNN’s Robert Shackelford and Jenn Selva contributed to this report.

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