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Road Reopened for Skiers Stranded in Washington

November 26, 1986|Associated Press

GLACIER, Wash. — Crews reopened a road Tuesday to free nearly 1,000 weekend skiers stranded for two nights near Mt. Baker, and residents of flooded communities returned home.

Drenching rains and melting snow forced more than a dozen rivers to flood. In the Snoqualmie River Valley east of Seattle, it was called the worst flooding since 1959.

At about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, high water gouged a 100-foot hole in a Snohomish River dike at Ebey Island, between the towns of Snohomish and Everett, forcing the evacuation of 22 families.

Debris Cleared

Crews using heavy earthmoving equipment cleared debris from the section of Washington Highway 524 washed out by the Nooksack River that had trapped the skiers, and the first car made it over the road about 1:30 p.m., Jan Leonardo of the Whatcom County Department of Emergency Services said.

Traffic was limited to one lane, but "it's all going downhill now," she said.

On Monday, the skiers had been treated to a free day on the slopes, although the enforced vacation was starting to wear thin, said Kim Moore of Seattle, one of those trapped.

A few of the hardy scrambled across the river on logs, and Leonardo said some stranded Canadians paid $150 each to be flown out by helicopter.

The National Weather Service said all but two western Washington rivers--the White in the foothills west of Mt. Rainier and the Chehalis near Centralia--were expected to fall below flood stage.

In the area around Snoqualmie, about 30 miles east of Seattle, about 200 people forced out of their homes early Monday by the Snoqualmie River returned home Tuesday.

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