Coast Range Mountain Town Residents Rescued By Soldiers
Harsh winter storms lashed the Pacific Northwest as brave National Guard troops worked to evacuate residents in the area. Much of the Northwest corner of Washington and Oregon was devastated by high winds and rain, which knocked out power to much of the area.
Using Zodiac boats and various National Guard Aircraft, residents of Vernonia were rescued on Monday. Vernonia is a small timber town in the mountains about forty miles from the Pacific Coast.
“We are searching and rescuing people for people literally in the streets, and through backyards,” stated National Guard Spokesman Major Mike Braibish.
Cut off by landslides and fallen trees, which blocked roads into the area, Vernonia has a population of about 2,200 residents. “There are no phones, no land lines at all into the Vernonia area,” said Hyla Rideour, who is a spokesperson for Columbia River Fire and Rescue in St. Helens, Oregon.
Local Coastal towns along the Pacific Coast were also hit hard by storms that came ashore Sunday and Monday. Five hundred fifty six people were housed in American Red Cross shelters, and many area streets and roads remained closed to traffic due to landslides and trees.
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski issued a State of Emergency Order to allow Oregon to speed rescue efforts to the storm torn counties without having to have the counties request it.
More than ten inches of rain have descended on the area and the Coast Range in two of the harshest storms in recent memory.