Washington declares a state of emergency in wake of floods
The state of Washington has declared a state of emergency in the wake of floods that have hit the area in the last week. Due to the heavy dump of snow followed by the rapid melting, the rivers in the area are not able to accomodate all the water, and are therefore flooding their banks and the surrounding areas - such as roads, neighbourhoods and even highways.
Residents near the Snoqualmie River have never seen it rise so high before and more than 30,000 people living in the area have been asked to evacuate their homes.
Major highways have been shut down, and numerous rescues have had to take place. There is also the continued threat of mudslides and avalanches taking place throughout the state.
"This appears to us to be the largest requested evacuation that anyone here is aware of," said Mark Stewart, a spokesman at the state Emergency Operations center. "We still have rivers going up, so it's really hard to determine what the scale of the flooding will be."
Because evacuations are voluntary in Washington, Stewart said, there was no way to calculate how many people had agreed to leave their homes. The Red Cross reported that at least 258 people stayed in their shelters Wednesday night.