NORTHWEST RAINS EASE, BUT HOMES AT RISK Last Updated: 11-08-06 at 6:06AM http://www.kfmb.com/story.php?id=69416 PORTLAND, Ore. -- As a storm that drenched Washington and Oregon for two days spent its force, trucks set to work on the Pacific Northwest coast dumping gravel to prevent houses from sliding into the ocean. The record-setting rains killed at least one person, closed roads and threatened hundreds of homes. But forecasters predicted the rains would relent Wednesday. "It's gone," said Dan Keirns, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire declared an emergency for 18 counties, authorizing the National Guard and the Emergency Management Division to offer assistance. Helicopters and hovercraft were put to work making rescues. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared an emergency in coastal Tillamook County, where about 100 people were evacuated because of rising floodwaters. Fifteen to 20 dump trucks shuttled between a quarry and three houses above Gleneden Beach, where rain and wind threatened the foundations of two vacation homes and a year-round house, officials said. Fire Chief Joshua Williams of Depoe Bay said contractors were trucking in material to shore up the foundation and trying to prevent further erosion. "They're essentially making a road behind those homes," he said. Farther north, in Clatsop County, high water blocked the coastal highway U.S. 101 to all but the largest vehicles, so the county sent a dump truck to fetch 300 ballots from Cannon Beach in the southern part of the county to the county courthouse in Astoria. "That was very helpful," said County Clerk Nicole Williams. In Washington state, at least one house was swept away and nearly 300 homes and cabins were threatened after the Cowlitz River burst its banks and changed course near Packwood, south of Mount Rainier, said sheriff's deputy Stacy Brown. More than 20 people waited Tuesday in Packwood's Four Square Church after being told their homes were imperiled by the changing river flow. "I don't think anybody expected it to rise as fast as it did _ like a boiling pot of chocolate milk," said church youth leader Amber Low. "It was just logs and root wads. It wasn't very pretty." About 200 to 225 elk hunters were evacuated Monday from hunting camps, said Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield, and a 20-year-old hunter died when his pickup truck was swept into the river. Tens of thousands of children were given the day off from school Tuesday. Rainfall records were set Monday across western Washington, including 8.22 inches at Stampede Pass, which broke an all-time rain record of 7.29 inches set on Nov. 19, 1962. "It's something that happens once every 10 years," said weather service hydrologist Brent Bower. The storm dumped from 3 to 15 inches on Oregon by Tuesday, mostly on the coast and the northwestern corner of the state. West of Mount Hood, 17 homes in the town of Brightwood were evacuated because of the rising Sandy River. Most rivers and streams in the region were under flood watches or warnings. Rescuers used a boat to pick up seven illegal campers stranded by rising waters on the Sandy River delta near Troutdale, east of Portland. The area is known as a homeless encampment. ___ Associated Press writers Curt Woodward in Olympia, Wash., Donna Gordon Blankinship in Seattle and Typh Tucker in Portland, Ore., contributed to this report. Flooding Prompts N.W. Evacuations Provided By: The Associated Press Last Modified: 11/8/2006 10:03:38 AM http://www.11alive.com/news/usnews_article.aspx?storyid=87308 SEATTLE -- Record rainfall that brought heavy flooding to the Northwest, killing at least one person, causing evacuations and damaging roads and houses, began to ease Tuesday, as high waters continued to threaten some areas. Flood waters threatened nearly 300 homes and cabins in Washington after the Cowlitz River burst its banks and changed course near Packwood, south of Mt. Rainier, said Deputy Stacy Brown of the Lewis County sheriff's office. At least one house was swept away in the flood, she said. She said about 19 households in the area called for help, but mudslides and flooding had closed roads, making rescues more difficult. About 20 people spent Monday night in Packwood's Four Square Church, and more people were waiting Tuesday after being told their homes were imperiled by the changing river flow. "I don't think anybody expected it to rise as fast as it did — like a boiling pot of chocolate milk," said church youth leader Amber Low. "It was just logs and root wads. It wasn't very pretty." About 200 to 225 elk hunters were evacuated Monday from hunting camps in the area, said Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield. A 20-year-old hunter died when his pickup truck was swept into the river, authorities said. Tens of thousands of children were given the day off from school Tuesday. There were fears that voters in several Washington counties could have trouble reaching polling places Tuesday, although it wasn't immediately clear what problems, if any, they experienced. Most of the state's counties now vote entirely by mail. Rainfall records were set Monday across western Washington, including 8.22 inches at Stampede Pass, which broke an all-time rain record of 7.29 inches set on Nov. 19, 1962. Milder storms were expected later in the week but nothing as powerful as the storm that caused the flooding, said Brent Bower, a Weather Service hydrologist. "It's something that happens once every 10 years," he said of the deluge. Gov. Chris Gregoire declared an emergency for 18 counties, authorizing the National Guard and the Emergency Management Division to offer assistance. Helicopters and hovercraft were pressed into service for rescues. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared an emergency Tuesday in Tillamook County, where about 100 people were evacuated because of rising floodwaters. The Pineapple Express storm, named for its origin in warm Pacific waters, had dumped from 3 to 15 inches on Oregon by Tuesday, mostly on the coast and the northwestern corner of the state. The storms were expected to taper off late Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. Weather-related road closures were common, and affected parts of U.S. Routes 101 and 26. Election officials in Clatsop County arranged to have a dump truck pick up ballots Tuesday night in case of high water on roads. Three luxury homes in Gleneden Beach were on the brink of crumbling into the Pacific. On Tuesday morning, rock-loaded bulldozers and dump trucks tried to create a break to protect the homes from the high surf. "I just wonder if they're battling themselves and time," said homeowner Jim Nelson. West of Mount Hood, 17 homes in the town of Brightwood were evacuated because of the rising Sandy River. Most rivers and streams in the region were under flood watches or warnings. Rescuers used a boat to pick up seven illegal campers stranded by rising waters on the Sandy River delta near Troutdale, east of Portland. The area is known as a homeless encampment. More than 100 people were told to leave their homes in the northwest coastal town of Tillamook because of flooding, and all major roads in the area were closed, Undersheriff Terry Huntsman said Flooding overwhelms Pacific Northwest By Sam Howe Verhovek Times Staff Writer November 8, 2006 http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-naflooding8nov08,0,3955655,print.story SEATTLE — The warm-weather system that rises from the South Pacific and roars into the cool Pacific Northwest most Novembers is known as the "Pineapple Express," but there is nothing sweet about it this year. Drenching rain, record flooding and highway-closing mudslides have wreaked havoc in western Washington and Oregon in recent days, and claimed at least one life, that of a 20year-old elk hunter who died when his pickup truck was swept into the Cowlitz River on Monday. Even as the rain subsided here Tuesday, officials cautioned that some swollen rivers in the area may cause even more damage in coming days. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski issued emergency declarations for parts of their states, with National Guard units activated to carry out evacuations and rescues in small towns surrounded by the floodwaters. Polling places in a few areas of Washington had to be shut down, raising the possibility that close races here might not be resolved until voters in flooded areas had their say. Oregon conducts elections by mail, so most voters there had already cast ballots. Gregoire, after an aerial survey of the damage in Skagit Valley, north of Seattle, said she felt "very, very positive" about rescue and relief efforts. "People here know when to call for help and when not to," she told reporters in Mount Vernon. "It's worked exactly as it should — federal, state, local." Hundreds of volunteers had gathered in Mount Vernon to erect a 1,400-foot-long wall of sandbags. . The Skagit River crested at 39.77 feet, slightly less than it did during the last major flood, in 2003, which caused about $16 million in property damage. Along the Oregon coast, in Tillamook County, mudslides, fallen trees and flooding closed several important roads. At Gleneden Beach, crews with bulldozers and backhoes dumped rocks and fill along the eroding shore, hoping to keep several vacation homes from sliding into the Pacific Ocean. Rainstorms propelled by the Hawaiian air currents also caused severe flooding in southwestern British Columbia and led to the evacuation of about 500 residents in the province. The National Weather Service said that today and Thursday should be relatively dry but that another Pineapple Express system could bring more rain by the weekend. Air-freight screening to be tested at Sea-Tac By Drew DeSilver Seattle Times business reporter http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgibin/PrintStory.pl?document_id=2003364897&zsection_id=2002119995&slug=tsa08&dat e=20061108 Nearly 64,000 metric tons of commercial cargo fly in and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport each year on passenger planes — stowed in the jets' bellies alongside travelers' Samsonite and ski gear. But unlike passenger baggage, most commercial freight is not screened for explosives. That will change, at least for the next several months, as Sea-Tac becomes the second test site for a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pilot program. The department plans to announce today that Sea-Tac will join San Francisco International Airport and an unnamed Midwestern airport in the $30 million program. The congressionally mandated program will test different ways of detecting explosives that might be hidden in commercial shipments, and assess whether it's feasible — technically, fiscally and logistically — to screen much more commercial freight than at present. The Sea-Tac testing also will experiment with ways to detect stowaways in air-freight containers, said a DHS official familiar with the program, who spoke on condition he not be identified. Screeners will use devices designed to detect heartbeats and elevated levels of carbon dioxide, which humans produce when they exhale. Dogs also will be used to sniff out explosives, he said. Worldwide, about half of all air freight is carried on passenger planes, with the rest on cargo-only planes flown by FedEx, UPS and many major airlines, said Ned Laird, founder and managing director of the Air Cargo Management Group, a Seattle-based research and advisory firm. Researchers from DHS began observing air-cargo operations at Sea-Tac in September, the official said, "trying to model the rhythms of airport activity." He declined to say when the test screening will start but said it probably will run until early summer. The results, along with those from the other two airports, will be reported to Congress, which would to decide on any new screening requirement for air cargo. But Laird said the security benefit of screening all commercial cargo likely wouldn't be worth the extra time and expense. "If somebody comes up with something that really works and is affordable, I don't think anyone would object to screening all air cargo," Laird said. "But we're spending an inordinate amount of taxpayer money to see if, by screening all freight, we could eliminate all risk. "It's like saying we could never have another airplane crash if we just designed the planes better. There's always going to be some risk." Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or [email protected] Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company Scientists fear for the health of Puget Sound Experts criticize plan by governor's panel as inadequate Wednesday, November 8, 2006 By LISA STIFFLER AND ROBERT MCCLURE P-I REPORTERS http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/printer2/index.asp?ploc=t&refer=http://seattlepi.nwsource. com/local/291501_stormwater08.html If you want to fix a technically challenging problem, you go to the experts, right? Not if you're the governor's task force sent forth to save Puget Sound. A group of 14 experts on controlling stormwater runoff is criticizing the Puget Sound Partnership's draft plan for returning local marine waters to health. None was part of the science team advising the partnership. The scientists expressed "little hope" for the restoration of the Sound unless the draft recommendations on stormwater -- due for final consideration today and Thursday -- are strengthened. "Indeed it is far more likely, with the arrival of millions more newcomers and concomitant high-impact development, that the health of Puget Sound will continue in its precipitous decline," it stated. "All of us signed on to that letter because we do feel strongly that the traditional approaches to stormwater have not been successful in actually protecting stream ecosystems," said Derek Booth, a geologist with the consulting group Stillwater Sciences. Stormwater -- the rainwater runoff from roads, parking lots and rooftops that carries pollution and erodes streams -- is considered one of the greatest threats to Puget Sound's salmon, orcas and other marine life. The traditional strategy for dealing with runoff is to channel it through pipes or streams and flush it into the Sound. The recommendations from Gov. Chris Gregoire's partnership emphasize carrying out stormwater plans already in development -- even though the state has admitted they are "sometimes inadequate" -- as well as monitoring pollution and encouraging new ways of controlling runoff. The partnership's final meetings are today and Thursday in Pierce County's University Place. Members said they're still considering public comments. "This letter is very important," said Kathy Fletcher, member of the partnership and director of the People for Puget Sound environmental group. "If you look at the people who sent it, these are the people who are the true experts on this topic." The partnership was formed less than a year ago and told to come up with a plan for restoring the Sound to good health by 2020. It must provide the governor with recommendations by early December. "By the nature of this body, they're not able to take every one of these issues and get into the detail of how they should be solved," said Bill Ruckelshaus, co-chairman of the partnership. He said the group would consider all of the public input. "We're supposed to outline a solution (that's achievable) by 2020," Ruckelshaus said. "Believe me, this is a mammoth undertaking." The recommendations include forming another government-appointed group to expand upon and carry out the restoration strategies proposed by the Puget Sound Partnership. The stormwater scientists -- including professors, federal scientists and engineers -- said the partnership could do more to protect the Sound from damage caused by stormwater. They worry that the solutions won't be based on science. "A lot of the ultimate decisions about whether these things will turn out for the better will be political and social decisions," said Susan Bolton, a professor with the University of Washington's College of Forest Resources who signed the letter. The letter recommends: Using low-impact development, which helps rainwater soak into the ground where it falls or holds it in barrels and tanks where it's released more slowly. The approach includes reducing the amount of pavement with narrower roads and sidewalks. It can be applied to developing and urbanized areas. Protecting undisturbed stretches of land that sponge up rainwater. Eliminating the net loss of forest cover by regulating development and planting more trees. Preserving and improving the streamside vegetation. Research has shown that low-impact development, in particular, can be cost effective. Low-impact development "is such a small step and such an easy thing to do, why wouldn't we do it as quickly as possible?" said Tom Holz, an engineer with a consulting company and key contributor to the letter. King County has embraced some of these approaches. Its highly controversial Critical Areas Ordinance required rural property owners to leave 50 percent to 65 percent of their land in native vegetation that helps soak up water before it runs off. The county also revamped its requirements for managing stormwater, requiring such water-cleansing measures as ponds and grassy channels that allow pollution to settle out. Typical single-family homes must be designed to control runoff by, for example, installing a vegetate roof or "rain gardens," small vegetated ponds that capture the stormwater. Others signing the letter were environmental engineer Richard Horner; stream specialist David Montgomery; hydrologist/engineer Douglas Beyerlein; fisheries biologists Thom Hooper, David Somers, DeAnn Kirkpatrick and Cleve Steward; ecologist James Karr; engineer Gary Minton; planner John Lombard; and environmental science and engineering researcher Christopher May. P-I reporter Lisa Stiffler can be reached at 206-448-8042 or [email protected] ? 1998-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer We need to grasp the big picture The United States must take the lead to protect our precious oceans Tuesday, November 07, 2006 http://www.dailyastorian.info/main.asp?SectionID=23&SubSectionID=392&ArticleID=3 7817&TM=63621.27 The core message from last week's report in the journal Science concerning fisheries collapse was very clear: "We need a shift from single species management to ecosystem management." Unless major changes are made, overfishing and pollution will send most familiar seafood species into a death spiral from which they will not easily recover, according to a team of ecologists and economists reporting on a four-year study of long-term trends. It is understandable that many fishermen find this prediction and others like it overblown. Looking just at our little nearby piece of ocean, for example, there is substantial controversy when it comes to rockfish. Many harvesters believe faulty data on fish populations are giving managers a false impression of species health. But there's no denying that disturbing trends are very much in evidence around the world. Analyzing the best available information stretching back as far as 1,000 years, the study's authors found 29 percent of fish and shellfish species have collapsed, in the sense that their catch has declined by at least 90 percent. If the problem was simply one of ignorance of hidden resilience in fish stocks, harvests would not have imploded as they have. In the developed world, the fishing industry has made significant strides in more carefully targeting specific species. Worldwide, however, fisheries remain a classic case of the Gold Rush mentality, with fishermen grabbing as much as they can as quickly as they can, aware that if they don't, the next boat will. Meanwhile, the ocean remains a dumping ground for every toxic substance we mine or manufacture. Furthermore, the oceans are soaking up much of the heat and carbon injected into the atmosphere by our use of fossil fuels. Elevated water temperatures are deadly to many species, perhaps leading to "dead zones" like that observed off the Oregon coast in recent summers. At the same time, carbon mixing with seawater leads to acidification, with adverse consequences for all life. In a politically fractured world it will be difficult to achieve, but the U.S. must exercise leadership in managing the oceans with an overarching goal of enhancing the health of entire food webs. We need to invest in basic science so we comprehend what is going on beneath the surface. And then we need to set an example by managing all commercial fisheries in ways that sustain not only coastal economies but undersea ecologies. President Bush has shown commendable foresight on many fisheries issues, but must use the two years remaining in his term to make progress on curbing emission of greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution. There's no more time to waste. Study after study reinforces our understanding that all our planet's major systems - the ocean, atmosphere and land masses - are bound up together. We'll regret it if we don't recognize and act on this fact.