UPDATE (1:38 p.m. PST) – Commissioners in Cowlitz County, Washington, have declared an emergency because of flooding and sewage overflow there.
Flooding shut down the Interstate 5 exit to Kalama Tuesday and even prompted the city to shut down its water plant because of high turbidity from slides along one of the city’s roads.
City officials are also asking residents not to run washers and dishwashers and conserve water. Rain and runoff are overwhelming the city’s wastewater plant. Kalama Mayor Mike Reuter said the worst appeared to be over on Tuesday afternoon. He said the city is lucky; officials had worried about flooding at downtown businesses, but Reuter said the water level was beginning to normalize. The city worked to distribute sandbags.
The National Weather Service in Portland issued flood warnings for other areas in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington, too.
830 am| Areal #Flood Warning until 215 PM Tuesday for portions of the West Metro and Washington I-5 Corridor means flooding expected on numerous small creeks and drainages with impacts to property and roads. #orwx #wawx #pdxtst #turnarounddontdrown pic.twitter.com/tXq7WkkDvS— NWS Portland (@NWSPortland) February 12, 2019
In Oregon, Washington County, southwestern Columbia County and northwestern Multnomah County are all being hit with heavy rain.
In Washington, west-central Clark County and south-central Cowlitz County are also both under a flood warning.
Kalama - NB I5/Exit 30 - CLOSED! A motorist attempted to drive through the deep water. Not advised! Doesn’t look like this will be cleaned up anytime soon! pic.twitter.com/2gWGOENsR9— Trooper Will Finn (@wspd5pio) February 12, 2019
Will Ahue with the National Weather Service’s Portland office said the agency has been getting reports of flooding mainly in the western Washington County area in places such as Forest Grove and Cornelius.
“Right now we’re just seeing a band of heavy, steady rain just sitting over the area which is definitely going to exacerbate the issues,” Ahue said.
“We’re expecting this band to slide south in the morning hours into this afternoon, but for a good portion of the morning, the band hasn’t moved a whole lot,” he said. “So, unfortunately, those areas that are getting hit hardest with the rain right now will probably continually get hit hard for a little while longer.”