By Rodney Drinnen
SPOKANE, WASHINGTON (Worthy News) -- There was more flooding in several parts of the northwestern U.S. state of Washington Friday, January 9, where previous floods, mudslides and avalanches already kept tens of thousands of people from homes and endangered drinking water supplies.
Christians are among rescue workers active in the region, amid mounting concerns about the safety of residents staying behind in homes, while an estimated 40,000 people were already evacuated. "We had to do rescues all day," since Tuesday, said Wayne Mitchell, a Christian fire fighter and active member of Open Door Baptist Church in Washington. Mitchell worked despite recovering from injuries. "The snow affected me to the point I fell off my own roof and broke ribs and was out of work for three weeks," he told Worthy News. Following successful rescues, he and his colleagues were unable to return to their families, he said. "Then we were land locked and unable to travel from the station to see our family's because of the floods. I just thank God that in the times of storms we can find the hidden blessings of the Lord," he said.
Freight trains were also brought to a standstill and hundreds of trucks have been stranded along major highways that link the city of Seattle's busy ports with markets around the United States, which is already facing the worst economic meltdown in decades.
The flooding — described as the worst on record in Washington state — was touched off by a combination of heavy rain of 6 inches or more and a warm spell in the mid-40s that rapidly melted the snow in the Cascade Range, according to weather experts.
The National Weather Service said Friday, January 9, that major flooding was still on the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Cedar and Chehalis rivers. The Associated Press (AP) news agency quoted state Transportation Department officials as saying that the highways were still closed in 49 locations, including Snoqualmie Pass and Interstate 5 at Chehalis.
Water systems were also damaged and the State Health Department advised residents to boil drinking water in several areas of Washington, including at South Bend, Morton and Pe Ell.
The National Weather Service said more rain was expected Friday, January 9, and the weekend, but added that outlook into next week was for drier weather.
Meanwhile, major roads Washington remained closed, with state crews working around the clock to clear them from snow and water.
Roads passing through the mountains were completely shut down to traffic and even some passenger trains were unable to get through because of the weather conditions, American media reported.
The Snoqualmie River was measured at a record 61.3 feet (19 meters) since late Wednesday, officials said. In the Eastern Washington’s city of Spokane schools were closed for days because of record snow, amid fears buildings could collapse under the weight of snow. There have already been several collapses, news reports said.
About 200 Washington National Guard were activated and deployed to the Spokane area to help remove snow from schools.
Governor Chris Cregoire’s office and several agencies urged residents to prepare for the threats of the severe weather. However Wayne Mitchell said he hasn't given up hope. "Our community has lost roofs to the snow, homes to the flooding, but even through this God provides solace in his word and provides the rescuers to bring us out of our trials. Some victory's however small can provide blessings beyond measure. Shaken pressed down overflowing with God's love."