Mud, slides close roads, trap motorists near Twisp

TWISP — Thunderstorms dropped heavy rain on areas of north-central Washington hard-hit by wildfires this summer, triggering flash floods and mud slides Thursday night that damaged some homes, blocked portions of at least three highways and stranded some motorists, officials said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said some homes along State Highway 153 near Twisp were damaged by mudslides, the Wenatchee World reported. Deputies were trying to reach the residences.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Darren Wright said five to 10 vehicles were marooned on Highway 153 by mud and slides. He said those vehicles are in a safe area.

Mud and debris closed a nine-mile stretch of Highway 153 and a 25-mile section of Highway 20, the state Transportation Department said.

Trooper Wright said a mudslide in nearby Douglas County blocked State Highway 97 south of Chelan.

More than an inch of rain was reported in one hour near Twisp in an area burned by the massive Carlton Complex wildfire, National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Fugazzi said.

Members of Washington state’s congressional delegation have asked the federal government to reconsider a decision denying help for individuals affected by the huge summer wildfires.

More than 300 homes have been destroyed by the wildfires in north-central Washington, and Gov. Jay Inslee has said the cost of destroyed properties in Okanogan County alone is estimated at more than $28 million.

President Barack Obama has approved federal assistance for Okanogan County and the Colville confederated tribes to help repair or replace public infrastructure lost in this summer’s wildfires. The assistance approved means FEMA will reimburse Okanogan County and the Colvilles for 75 percent of the costs of eligible expenses related to disaster-damaged facilities such as roads, bridges, and public utilities.

But in a letter sent Wednesday to Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Reps. Doc Hastings and Dave Reichert urged the agency to review a decision that kept individual federal aid from people who lost homes or needed other help in Okanogan and Chelan counties.

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