In this Feb. 8 photo, resident Patty Haid is helped from her flood-damaged home in Pendleton, Oregon. (Ben Lonergan/East Oregonian via AP)

In this Feb. 8 photo, resident Patty Haid is helped from her flood-damaged home in Pendleton, Oregon. (Ben Lonergan/East Oregonian via AP)

I-84 partially reopens after Oregon flood; residents return

Authorities opened one lane of travel in each direction Monday but restricted speeds to 45 mph.

Associated Press

PENDLETON, Ore. — Residents began the long process Monday of cleaning up from devastating flooding that hit northeast Oregon as receding waters revealed the full extent of the damage. Mobile homes were moved from their foundations, there were impassable roads and thick layers of mud and debris everywhere.

Authorities opened one lane of travel in each direction Monday on Interstate 84, a major freeway connecting Oregon and Idaho, but restricted speeds to 45 mph (72 kmh) as crews worked to repair severe damage to the asphalt and roadway irrigation system. Flood warnings were lifted late Sunday.

Search and rescue teams transitioned Monday from searching the most rural communities in the foothills of the Blue Mountains for stranded residents to assessing the full extent of the damage. Crews worked to restore power and authorities urged those with wells to boil their drinking water.

Fifty-four people were evacuated by helicopter over the weekend from remote areas and a 62-year-old woman was found dead Sunday after being swept away by flood waters. Ten dogs, one cat and one rabbit were also rescued, authorities said Monday.

The city of Pendleton began signing up volunteers to help clean up the most devastated neighborhoods on Sunday. A mobile home park was the worst hit, with many units suffering significant damage. Many residents did not have insurance, the East Oregonian reported.

Patty Haid returned to her mobile home over the weekend to assess the damage after leaving Thursday night. She told the East Oregonian she waded in waist-deep water to safety while holding a suitcase over her head.

Her porch had washed away and she will likely need a new floor in her unit, she said, but her family fared better than another resident whose mobile home floated away and crashed into another one.

“It was so scary,” Haid told the newspaper.

A heavy snowstorm in the Blue Mountains, followed by two days of rain and warming temperatures, created the worst flooding in at least 30 years in the city of Pendleton and other smaller communities in the region about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northeast of Portland, Oregon. Walla Walla, Washington was also hit hard by flooding in the Pacific Northwest where Oregon, Washington and Idaho meet.

The Umatilla River crested at more than 19 feet (5.7 meters) on Thursday night — nearly four times the average height for that date — during the worst of the flooding and multiple rivers in the area set records for their water level.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Friday for Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa counties, which meant the Oregon National Guard could respond.

No timeline has been set for the remaining lanes of I-84 to reopen.

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