WALLA WALLA -- Walla Walla County commissioners went on the road today to assess damages from a storm which swept through the county Sunday night and Monday morning.
Commissioners and other officials toured the sections in the west-central area of the county where three roads were closed after the storm washed out sections of pavement or blocked passage with mud and debris. At least 15 other roads had received significant damage but were open.
The intense rain and subsequent mudslides also buried fields and damaged equipment. On the Terry Schaeffer farm six miles north of Touchet the storm left two alfalfa fields half-buried in mud and shoved a set of seed drills about 75 yards from where it was parked.
"We got a mess out here," Schaeffer said Monday afternoon. The storms were "a pretty narrow band that just went right up there" in the middle of the county.
County commissioners declared an emergency Monday morning after hearing reports of the damage from Public Works Director Randy Glaeser and Emergency Management Director Jim Duncan. The action will allow Glaeser to contract for work to clear up the damage without going through the usual procedures and formalities required by law.
Mudslides also blocked State Route 14 on Saturday night between Paterson and Roosevelt, west of the Tri-Cities area. The slides damaged about 600 feet of roadway and blocked the railroad track which runs alongside the road, which runs parallel to the Columbia River.
State Department of Transportation workers were able to reopen the road Monday night, but officials said in a release "there is still a lot of cleanup work to do. Drivers can expect daytime single-lane traffic and flaggers through the slide area for the next two weeks while crews clean out roadside drainage ditches, remove remaining debris and repair damaged guardrail."
Due to the continued threat of locally-intense thunderstorms, the Walla Walla Valley, as well as much of Southeastern Washington and Northeastern Oregon, was under a flash flood watch today.
According to the National Weather Service, a low pressure system off the southwest coast of Oregon will bring another round of thunderstorms to the area today. The very moist atmosphere over the region combined with the slow movement of thunderstorms could cause locally heavy rainfall associated with the storms.
The following three Walla Walla County roads are closed:
- Luckenbill Road -- Areas of the road are gone due to flooding.
- Yox Road -- Mud and debris have completely blocked road.
- Woodward Canyon -- Water over roadway and in other areas mud and debris covering road.
The following roads are open, but received significant damage due to mud and debris:
- Moorehead Road
- Babcock Road
- Upton Road
- Lower Monumental Road
- Lamar Road
- Greenville Road
- Magellan Road
- Simmons Road
- Eureka North Road
- Harsell Road
- Greenville Road
- Touchet North Road
- Sudbury Road
- Thiel Road
- Walker School Road