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Rain and Snow Leave Thousands Without Power, Seven Dead

November 20, 1996

Thousands of people remained without electricity in the Northwest today after a storm that piled snow 2 feet deep and created mudslides that covered highways and smashed a house.

At least seven people were killed by the storm.

A ``pineapple express″ of moisture-laden air from the central Pacific was blamed for the snow, which reached 22 inches at Tieton, Wash., and a record-tying 14 inches at Yakima.

The wind-blown snow closed schools, businesses and offices, caused hundreds of traffic accidents, delayed airline flights and disrupted telephone service.

In western Oregon, rainfall was abating today after a record 4.03 inches Tuesday at Eugene, but flood warnings remained in effect for several rivers.

Near Pleasant Hill, Ore., Judi McCay attracted rescuers by yodeling after she and her cat were swept into the swollen Coast Fork of the Willamette River as they fled their home.

``I just kept yodeling and yodeling until they put the spotlight on me,″ McCay said Tuesday of her rescuers.

``It was just miraculous that we heard that cry for help,″ said Darl Hunt, a volunteer firefighter. ``If we hadn’t been there and she hadn’t yelled, we’d have had another casualty.″

McCay’s cat had not been found.

About 90,000 customers of Washington Water Power in eastern Washington and northern Idaho remained without electricity this morning. Other utilities around Washington estimated more than 60,000 still had no power. More than 250,000 were blacked out Tuesday.

``For the sheer number of customers out, this storm has been pretty severe,″ said Patrick Lynch of Spokane-based Washington Water Power Co. He said it could be up to four days before power is restored in some outlying areas.

As many as 150,000 customers lost power at the height of the storm in Oregon.

Three deaths in Washington were blamed on the snow and ice, and police said the weather might have contributed to two traffic fatalities.

Four people were killed by a mudslide that destroyed a house near Roseburg, Ore.

Other mudslides blocked highways and nearly buried a logging truck near Roseburg. Stranded motorists used borrowed saws and jacks to rescue trucker Jack Gillem of Reedsport.

``Nobody could have done it without everybody else’s help,″ said Henry Ahlquist, 28, of Cheyenne, Wyo.

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