Flooding claims 2 lives in Oregon
Thursday, January 19, 2012
SCIO, Ore. (AP) -- Authorities say the body of a woman killed when a car was swept into a stream in Albany has been recovered.
The Albany Fire department says family members located the body of 18-year-old Catharine McLaughlin about 1 p.m. Thursday.
Her son also died when the creek rose rapidly Wednesday evening and their car was swept away. Two other people survived.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
Raging waters from a flooded Oregon creek swept a carload of four people out of a grocery store parking lot and into the mouth of a canal culvert. Only two surfaced, a father and son. The body of a toddler in the car was recovered 100 yards downstream. His mother did not reappear.
The Albany toddler's death was the first one blamed on a brutal storm that drenched the region, forcing the evacuations of dozens of homes in a swath of western Oregon that watched normally-peaceful rivers swell into rushing rapids that shuttered highways, forced store owners to move their good to higher shelves and had frantic homeowners stuffing sandbags to hold off the rising water.
The car in Albany was first spotted just after 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Search crews recovered the body of 20-month-old Aiden McLaughlin. His mother, Catherin McLaughlin, was still missing and presumed dead, officials said Thursday.
The driver of the car, a 24-year-old man, was able to escape along with his 5-year-old son.
Witness Adam Chance said he arrived just after 7 p.m. in the parking lot of an Albany grocery store and saw the trunk of the car submerge in the swirling brown water.
A few people standing on the banks waded in but were unable to contend with the violent current drawing water and debris into the mouth of the culvert.
"They got sucked into the pipe," Chance said. "(The culvert) was just sucking down like a straw."
Oregon State climatologist Kathie Dello said the Hawaiian "Pineapple Express" is responsible for the wet weather. The system is creating a fire hose-like effect, dumping a concentrated stream of Pacific moisture on a small area in the western Willamette Valley.
East of Albany, Thomas Creek had flooded into the town of Scio, which has a population of about 870, and residents were being evacuated.
City Manager Ginger Griffith said water is pouring down Main Street and "we need to get people out."
She said about three-quarters were expected to leave. Residents were being notified by an automated dialing system, and a church has been designated as a refuge.
She says some homes have been flooded, and the fire department evacuated some residents overnight.
At Scio Hardware, strangers helped move goods to higher shelves as floodwaters spread through downtown.
"You help a person that needs it," said Leyna Gourley. "Hopefully, they'd do the same, I know they would. We're Scio, we're a pretty helpful community."
Thomas Creek and the creek in Albany -- Periwinkle Creek -- flow into the Willamette River.
Shirley Rex, 70, said people in Scio have grown used to occasional flooding, but haven't seen this level of water since 1996.
"We've seen it before," Rex said. "I didn't hope to see it again in my lifetime."
The Marion County Sheriff's Office evacuated about 80 homes in the nearby town of Turner as high waters continue to flow from nearby Mill Creek.
Marion County Emergency Manager John Vanderzanden said "a significant number of folks" were taken from homes as floodwaters rolled through the town of about 1,800 that lies 7 miles south of Salem.
In Independence and Monmouth, about 10 miles from Salem, flooding was affecting sewer lines and streets.
To the west of Oregon's Coast Range, residents were being evacuated in the town of Mapleton, with a population of about 900. Mapleton sits on the Siuslaw River.
Up to 10 inches of rain fell on parts of the Oregon Coast Range in a 36-hour period, and more rain and flooding is on the way, the National Weather Service said.