Heavy rains drench Oregon, more rain expected to flood rivers

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 08, 2015 3:11 PM

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Record-setting rainfall in Oregon closed roads and schools and caused transit delays, as well as the evacuation of low lying neighborhoods in a Portland suburb and flooding of an upscale downtown restaurant district, authorities said on Tuesday.

The rainstorm, which began in earnest on Sunday night, also triggered mudslides and sinkholes, local authorities said.

It also caused sewage to overflow into the Willamette River, which runs through Portland. City environmental officials warned residents to avoid contact with the river for 48 hours.

Widespread rainfalls totaling between 2 and 4 inches (5-10 cm) accumulated over northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington state from Sunday night through Monday, the National Weather Service said.

The deluge forced officials to close several roads and to cancel some schools and related activities on Tuesday, the Oregon Department of Transportation and local school districts said. 

Local television footage showed flooding on major streets through Portland, including the upscale residential and shopping Pearl District, where cars were stranded in high water.

On the Oregon coast, residents in low lying areas were getting hit hard by both the rains and high tides, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jeremiah Pyle.

The rainfall was a record for rainfall in a day in December for Portland, Pyle said. 

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings Tuesday for parts of Oregon and Washington and coastal rivers as another storm was forecast for the region later on Tuesday.

"We are anticipating more flooding overnight," Pyle said. 

Flooding has already caused the evacuation of dozens of residents in Clackamas County, near Portland, including some 30 people displaced from an apartment complex, according to the sheriff's office.

The parking lot at a tourist destination, Multnomah Falls, was closed after Multnomah Creek overflowed its banks, running through a pedestrian tunnel, the Oregon Department of Transportation said.

(Reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Frances Kerry)