Evacuation urged as flood waters rise

Residents of downtown Snoqualmie got the call to leave their homes early Wednesday, Jan. 7, as a warm weather system made for a fast-rising Snoqualmie River.

King County officials warned that dangerous widespread flooding was likely to occur throughout the Snoqualmie Valley.

Rain and melted snow put the river into Phase 4 flood alert level early that day, with water overtopping roads well before noon.

As of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, river gauges showed the Snoqualmie River at Snoqualmie running at 47,400 cubic feet per second (cfs), with some predictions calling for it to crest at 10 p.m. evening in the neighborhood of 60,000 cfs.

At around 12:30 p.m., Snoqualmie officials predicted that State Route 202 and Meadowbrook Road would close due to flooding, leaving downtown residents who chose to stay behind stranded.

Mayor Matt Larson said the Jan. 7 flood could be the worst flood since a 50-year event in 1990.

"We have the perfect storm going on," he said. With saturated ground from rain and snowmelt, a Pineapple Express and warmer temperatures, "all the elements are in play," Larson said. "It means to take this one serious."

Larson urged downtown residents who normally hunker down and try to stay put during a flood to leave, because if they need to be rescued later on, they put their rescuers at risk.

"We can't guarantee that we can come back and pull folks out," he said.

To prepare their homes for the floods, Residents were asked to move household items and valuables off of floors and to upper floors.

North Bend officials reported that a woman was rescued from her car by the fire department after she had tried to drive through the water over the roadway.

Midday Wednesday, the water was waist-deep at the intersection of Newton Street and Falls Avenue in Snoqualmie, just two of many closed roads. Officials warned drivers not to drive over flooded roadways. The number one cause of fatalities in flooding is from people who ignore emergency road closure signs and who drive into deep, swift water.

Closed streets in North Bend included 415th Avenue Southeast between East Ribary Way and Southeast 142nd Street; Ballarat Avenue North at Northeast 12th Street; 420th Avenue Southeast between Southeast 103rd Place and Southeast 108th Street; 428th Avenue Southeast between Southeast Reinig Road and Southeast Ernies Grove Road; and Moon Valley Road at North Fork Road.

In Snoqualmie, streets closed by early afternoon included Mill Pond at the Snoqualmie River Bridge and Stearns Road, Reinig Road at Highline, Pickering Court at Northern Street, Boalch Avenue at Mount Si Golf Course, Park Street at Centennial Fields, 384th Avenue at the Williams Addition, River Street at Silva, and State Highway 202 at the Fish Hatchery Road.

Residents began parking cars in any high spots they could find. Those with cars parked on Snoqualmie Ridge were able to schedule shuttle rides to the Ridge from downtown by calling (425) 766-9025 or (425) 283-7067.

The Red Lion Hotel in Bellevue is offering a rate of $65 for evacuees, Snoqualmie City Clerk Jodi Warren reported. That hotel is pet friendly, she said.

Emergency operations centers opened in both Snoqualmie and North Bend. The Snoqualmie location can be reached at (425) 888-5911, and North Bend's center can be reached at (425) 888-7661.

In Snoqualmie, sandbags and sand for filling are available at the King Street parking lot in downtown. In North Bend, sandbags are available at the Public Works Shop at 1155 E. North Bend Way.

Temporary shelter is available at Cascade View Elementary School on Snoqualmie Ridge at 34816 S.E. Ridge St.

Parking is available at the Community Park parking lot on Snoqualmie Ridge, and on Ridge Street in front of Community Park.

Emergency radio station AM 1650 for North Bend and Snoqualmie planned to broadcast emergency messages throughout the day.

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