Floods, emergency help reported across Washington state

Most damage from storms reported this weekend was in the southwestern part of the state, which experienced its worst flooding in a decade, although a slide was reported on East Beach Road west of Port Angeles.

The slide completely blocked the roadway Friday. Clallam County crews were expected to have it cleared by Sunday, said Undersheriff Ron Cameron.

Otherwise, blue skies brightened much of the Peninsula for a couple of days before the rain was forecast to return. The National Weather Service predicted rain beginning today over the region. Temperatures were expected to remain in the 40s or climb into the low 50s in some areas.

Clallam and Jefferson counties are taking action to help with repairs after the floods and windstorm in November, which shut down access to the West End for days, and snow storms in December and early this month.

On Jan. 5, President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration that includes Clallam County and the Quileute Tribe. It orders federal assistance for those hurt in the mid-November rainstorms.

“This doesn’t happen often, even in hurricane and tornado counties, so we are very fortunate to receive this,” Cameron said in a Facebook post on Friday.

The declaration means that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will have assistance to offer individuals and small businesses that were affected by the flooding and storms.

“The West End in particular got slammed, and many people have severely damaged or even homes destroyed from the flooding” on Nov. 15, Cameron said, adding that some 300 homes in Northwest Washington had been counted as damaged.

Congressman Derek Kilmer, who represents the 6th District, which includes the Peninsula, said during a recent speech in Forks that the state is working with federal authorities to get funding to fix the landslides on state Highway 112.

The state Department of Transportation has said it expects to repair the areas at mileposts 15.8 near Clallam Bay and 32 near Jim Creek — which include a massive slide 325 feet high and 275 feet wide — in March.

On Nov. 15, Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation for Clallam and Jefferson counties as well as for Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Island, Lewis, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Mason, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom counties.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

The three Jefferson County commissioners will consider declaring a winter storm emergency when they meet at 9 a.m. today after some 50 miles of U.S. Highway 101 were closed between the highway’s intersection with state Highway 104 and Hoodsport for several days last week.

For help, go to www.co.jefferson.wa.us/1069/Disaster-Recovery for ways to report damages.

On Sunday, The Associated Press reported that Grays Harbor authorities were searching for a man reported missing after driving into floodwaters in Elma. It wasn’t known if the man was swept away or walked out on his own, said Undersheriff Brad Johansson.

The search came after emergency workers said Saturday they had recovered the body of a 72-year-old man whose vehicle was swept away by flooding near Cosmopolis.

The National Weather Service said Hoquiam received a record 5.78 inches of rain Thursday. Other areas saw nearly half of the rain they’d expect to see for the month of January in one day, according to the weather service.

Inslee issued another emergency declaration Friday.

The swollen Chehalis River was expected to crest Sunday. Some rivers in Southwest Washington crested at more than 18 feet.

The weather service issued flood warnings Sunday for Grays Harbor and Thurston counties.

Crews worked to open several major highways connecting Seattle to the east, including Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass and U.S. Highway 97 over Blewitt Pass, the state Department of Transportation said.

U.S. 12 over White Pass may reopen today, the department said. But avalanche danger and multiple snow slides reaching 35 feet made it unlikely that a 44-mile stretch of U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass would reopen before Tuesday.

At the eastern end of that stretch of U.S. 2, the National Guard was deployed to the hard-hit city of Leavenworth in the Cascade Mountains for snow cleanup, food delivery and other services. Mayor Carl Florea asked for Guard help after the resort received 4 feet of snow in 48 hours last week.

Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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