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Flood Waters Surge Around Oregon

February 7, 1996

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Floodwaters forced nearly 150 people from their homes, swamped roads and bridges and continued to rise today as heavy rain soaked northwestern Oregon.

People piled sandbags outside their homes and businesses and about a dozen school districts canceled classes in western suburbs of Portland, the mid-Willamette Valley and Tillamook area.

Nearly 5 inches of rain fell in the past 24 hours in Eugene. On Tuesday, a record 3.26 inches of rain fell in Corvallis, 2.89 inches in Eugene and 2.16 inches in Portland, the wettest February day on record.

Jan Regnier said many of the areas near her house along Rock Creek in the western suburbs of Portland were flooding this morning, including the Rock Creek Country Club.

``A guy was out there wading and it was up to mid-chest. He was going after a car,″ Regnier said. ``That was pretty incredible to see a guy wading along in the middle of the street.″

More storms were expected to bring up to an additional 6 inches of rain by early Thursday, melting recent heavy snow in the mountains and swelling the Willamette River and its tributaries.

``We’re getting a December-like storm on top of an above-average, February snowpack,″ said Jon Lea, hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. ``The ground is frozen solid and won’t absorb any runoff. It’s like dumping 10 inches of water all at once onto a parking lot.″

Flood waters forced 147 people from their homes near the Marys River in Corvallis, temporarily closed dozens of roads in suburban Washington County, U.S. 30 and the St. Johns Bridge.

Natalie Daley and two children had 15 minutes to vacate their Corvallis home Tuesday morning after emergency workers wearing miner’s lanterns pounded on the door at 3 a.m. and told them to leave.

Eight sleepless hours later she was allowed to return and found 1 1/2 inches of water in her husband’s study and her son’s bedroom.

``It’s oddly insidious. There’s no dramatic pictures of neighbors clinging to their roofs,″ she said. ``But it’s the small, nasty parts of this kind of disaster that don’t look visible to other people that creates real misery.″

She was astonished that tiny Dixon Creek _ so narrow she can step over it _ could do this much damage.

``It was just a little thing that burbles a little bit and has ducks in it,″ she said. ``Now it’s a raging torrent.″