December 6, 2007
A massive rainstorm stalled over Washington and Oregon causing record level flooding in residential areas in both states. Officials are scrambling to assist residents stranded when the Chehalis River spilled over its banks on Monday December 3. Helicopters have rescued dozens of residents from rooftops, and many communities are cut off from ground transportation.
The United Church of Christ National Disaster Ministries office working with our UCC Pacific Northwest Conference disaster response coordinator, Ken Colman, is seeking $25,000 to assist with long term recovery. These funds should be directed to the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS)special fund Emergency USA marked for "Northwest Floods". Information on how to send funds is noted below. $7,000 from OGHS has been sent to the Washington Interfaith Disaster Recovery Organization to begin relief operations, response, and long term recovery. Information from Ken Colman indicates that UCC churches in the area do not have flood damage. The challenge will be to assist in clean up, damage assessment and repairs in areas where roads have been severely damaged along with homes.
State Flood Update
The Washington State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains fully operational today as local, state and federal agencies continue their response and recovery efforts resulting from this week's devastating storm. The EOC has received requests for support, including fuel, water, generators, sandbags, food, staff, and evacuations for stranded residents. (Needs are being met locally – there are no requests for material resources from outside of the area.)
The primary concern today is on meeting the needs of individuals and families by providing needed food, clothing, shelter, counseling and medication.
Aside from the risk of drowning, flood waters also present danger from bacteria and pathogens that can sicken people and animals. The Washington Departments of Health and Ecology urge residents to stay away from flood waters to minimize their health risks. And in some cases, local "boil-water" orders may be in place in communities where water systems are not fully functioning.
I-5 is currently closed both north and southbound from mile post 68 (SR 12) to mile post 88 (Grand Mound) in Lewis/Thurston County. National Guard resources have been requested to staff these road closures.
Washington State Department of Transportation continues to open state routes across the state, assess damaged highway structures, and coordinate movement of supplies with the National Guard. Detour routes around the closure have been well traveled. The freight community has been getting the word out about detour routes.
Power outages will continue until access to downed power lines is cleared and safe for crews. New outages may occur as trees rooted in rain-saturated soils topple and cause more line damage.
Approximately 50,000 residents remain out of power. The largest number of outages is in Grays Harbor, where 33,000 homes and businesses are still dark. The majority of Pacific County continues to be without power. The Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines that feed Pacific County sustained significant damage and at least four county PUD lines need repair before residents can expect their power back.
About 1,000 customers in both Clallam and Lewis counties and another 500 in Mason are waiting for their power to return. In some cases, flooding conditions are limiting power crew access to areas and facilities needing repair.
The American Red Cross (ARC) has eighteen shelters open in seven counties. Lewis County has six open this morning, with two closing later this evening. A total of 754 displaced residents spent the night in shelters, 132 of those were nursing home residents and staff. Many more people displaced are staying with friends or family.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Pray for people who live in communities affected by flooding.
2. To help those affected by disasters you may, send gifts payable to your congregation marked for Emergency USA "Northwest Floods" with the request they be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.
3. Send gifts, made out to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion Emergency USA "Northwest Floods" to the Office for Global Sharing of Resources; Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
4. Make a secure on-line donation.