Search and rescue operations continued by air and on the ground Sunday west and south of the Tri-Cities for people trapped in rural areas due to flooding.

On Friday and Saturday, rescue crews helped evacuate 47 people in northeast Umatilla County in Oregon and across the state line into Walla Walla County.

Two helicopters of the Oregon Army National Guard were helping evacuate people who asked for help, including those living near the south fork of the Walla Walla River and Mill Creek. And UTVs were being used on the ground to reach residents stranded in their homes without adequate supplies.

In one successful search and rescue operation, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office teamed up with the Washington State Department of Fish and Game and others to rescue a woman, two children and two dogs who took shelter at at the Tucannon Guard Station.

A helicopter couldn’t land, in part because of snow there, so a county Humvee and state 5-ton truck were driven through the Tucannon River and down washed-out roads with mud and rock slides to reach the guard station, according to the sheriff’s office.

Snowmelt and rain in the Blue Mountains sent water raging through streams and rivers in Umatilla County and in Walla Walla and Columbia counties in Washington state.


Roads flooded and washed out and at least one bridge, a Mill Creek bridge in College Place.

A six-mile stretch along Interstate 84 near Hermiston remained closed Sunday after irrigation ditches next to the roadway flooded. A detour is in place to take drivers around the damaged area.

The worst of the flooding is past, with rivers and creeks starting to drop, and drier weather forecast by the National Weather Service through Thursday.

The weather service ended flood watches and warnings for southeastern Washington and northwestern Oregon by Sunday afternoon.

But water in rivers, including the Umatilla River, remained high, warned the Oregon State Fire Marshal.

©2020 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)