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Northwest floods kill 3, damage roads

The recent storms also have damaged several hundred homes and shattered rainfall records.

Published November 10, 2006


PORTLAND, Ore. - Heavy rain and flooding, already blamed for three deaths in the Pacific Northwest, washed out a major highway near Mount Hood and forced the shutdown of 67 miles of the North Cascades Highway in Washington state Thursday.

The White River flowed over Oregon 35 on Mount Hood's eastern flank on Monday and Tuesday, cutting 20-foot-deep ruts through the road and sending boulders and trees rolling down the mountainside, said Bill Barnhart, an Oregon Department of Transportation manager.

Two creeks also wiped out a section of the same highway to the north, Barnhart said. Reopening the highway near Mount Hood will take an estimated $20-million.

The storms damaged hundreds of homes and broke rainfall records. At least three deaths were blamed on the flooding: two men swept into a Washington river and a 78-year-old woman found along the Oregon coast, where another woman was missing.

Rescue teams also continued to search for hunters who might be trapped in the hillsides between Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, officials said Thursday.

Floodwater from swollen creeks and rivers damaged roads and destroyed campgrounds at Mount Rainier National Park, closing it for the first time since 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted. Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said it would be several weeks before the park reopens to visitors.

Washington authorities decided to shut down the stretch of North Cascades Highway on Thursday because of concerns about the stability of the ground under the roadbed.

More rain was expected today and over the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

[Last modified November 10, 2006, 01:43:47]

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