Record setting rains drenched the Pacific Northwest earlier this week causing hundreds of evacuations, school closings and widespread damages to roadways and homes. The storm dumped three to 15 inches of rain on parts of Oregon by Tuesday and parts of Washington were pummeled with up to 8 inches in just 24 hours.
Dubbed the Pineapple Express as it originated over the warm waters of Hawaii, the severity of the storm and resulting floods prompted Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire to declare a state of emergency for 18 counties. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski also declared an emergency in Tillamook County where more than 100 people were evacuated due to rising flood waters.
The American Red Cross has been responding in Washington since the rains began, opening 17 shelters since early Monday morning. Welcoming a population of more than 700 evacuees, many shelters will remain open, as needed, as others remain on standby throughout the day and evening.
Seven Red Cross chapters in Washington are helping to coordinate the response effort. Five Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) are in the area and have distributed more than 2,400 meals and snacks.
Many roads remained closed yesterday and traffic patterns have changed due to a large amount of standing water that remains throughout the state. Residents may face longer and more confusing commutes for the remainder of the week.
“Many areas have been inaccessible because of all the water but Red Cross teams hope to head out today to begin damage assessments” said Red Cross spokesman Kevin Doroski.
Many comparisons have been made to floods that hit the state in 1996 and destroyed more than 800 homes and damaged countless others.
Forecasters predict more rain is on the way this weekend for the already soaked region.
To learn more about flood safety, visit the "Get Prepared" section of Redcross.org or contact your local chapter.
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.