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FEMA Closely Monitors Pacific Northwest Flooding


FEMA Closely Monitors Pacific Northwest Flooding

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is closely monitoring flooding in the Pacific Northwest. The coastal storm that came ashore on December 1, 2007, has moved inland, bringing increased flood risk throughout western Washington and Oregon.

Additional flooding is expected along some rivers in both states. FEMA continues coordinating with federal partners, tribal, state and local governments and voluntary agencies. Federal and state officials today started a process in Washington to assess damages to homes and businesses in counties most affected by this week's storm and flooding.

Additional ongoing coordination in the Pacific Northwest includes:

* FEMA: Region X Regional Response Coordination Center is activated at Level III. Region X state liaisons have been deployed to Oregon and Washington state emergency operation centers. The Mobile Emergency Response System has been deployed to Astoria, Oregon and an Incident Response Vehicle has been deployed to Chehalis, Washington to support U.S. Coast Guard District 13 communications efforts.

* U.S. Coast Guard (USCG): USCG District 13 is conducting search and rescue efforts. A USCG cutter also is patrolling the Washington/Oregon coast, providing search and rescue and communications support. Four helicopters have been staged to support search and rescue mission.

* U.S. Navy: Navy helicopters are providing relief assistance to civilians in the area. Search and Rescue helicopters from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island rescued stranded individuals along the Chehalis River and in Thurston County.

* U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE): The USACE continues to provide flood fighting assistance throughout the region from the Seattle District. Flood teams spread throughout western Washington are monitoring levees and assisting tribal and local governments. The USACE is providing technical assistance to Lewis County and Washington State Department of Transportation teams working to breach the Airport levee to alleviate flooding that has closed 20 miles of Interstate 5. More than 16,000 sandbags have been distributed.

* U.S. Department of Energy: The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has been operating its emergency command center since Monday morning, Dec. 3. The agency has restored power to all but the Raymond-Cosmopolis region in Pacific County, Washington. Crews are on the ground and working to get power restored as quickly as possible. BPA also is providing equipment and materials needed for local utilities to energize their lines.

* U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): HHS has provided information on what people can do to protect their health from the dangers caused by flooding.

* U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA is working with FEMA and the State of Washington in damage assessments.

* U.S. Department of Interior: Storm damage caused some problems in parks throughout the region, with the most serious occurring at Olympic National Park. On Dec. 4, park crews began to clear access to park entrance roads, assess damages and begin repairs to damage caused by the storm.

* National Guard Bureau: Oregon and Washington National Guard troops are providing support to law enforcement officials, conducting evacuations and search and rescue operations and establishing traffic control points. The National Guard also is working closely with state agencies and private organizations like the Red Cross to move equipment and supplies to where they're needed most.

* American Red Cross: The Red Cross focus remains on sheltering and mass feeding operations. Shelters have been open in Oregon and Washington since Monday, Dec 3. Mobile feeding is underway in both states, with additional kitchens and feeding vehicles moving into place. Damage assessment teams have been deployed and are operating in accessible areas.

* State of Oregon: The Oregon State Emergency Coordination Center is at full activation and operating with 24-hour staffing. Eleven shelters have been established.

* State of Washington: Washington's Emergency Operations Center is activated at Phase III and operating with 24-hour staffing. Twelve shelters have been established.

* U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): Is monitoring rainfall conditions in the Seattle area relative to some thresholds the agency has developed for landslides. National Weather Service is using this information as a basis for issuing landslide alerts. More Information can be found at landslides.usgs.gov/monitoring/seattle/rtd/plot.php. USGS also has developed maps for landslide susceptibility in the Seattle area. These are available online as open file reports at pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1139/ and pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1405/.

While the federal government continues to monitor and prepare for increased flooding, citizens are urged to take precautions during this time of adverse weather. There are steps individuals can take now to protect their families.

* Listen for announcements from local emergency managers regarding evacuation orders, sheltering locations and personal readiness actions.

* Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
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* Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.

For more information on flooding, go to www.fema.gov/hazard/flood/index.shtm.

For health information from the HHS, please visit www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/psa/ and, for text-based information about floods, please visit: www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/floods.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

ENDS

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