Lewis County hard hit by flooding

LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. — Interstate 5 in Lewis County between Grand Mound and U.S. 12 south of Chehalis was closed for five hours after three rivers overtopped their banks.

The interstate was never actually underwater, but water from the nearby rivers filled exits and entrances to the highway. At 5 p.m., the water was still rising.

Water was standing on the streets just south of the Lewis County courthouse.

With the main rivers not set to crest for several more hours, residents here are still nervous.

From the air, it is clear how much water residents of Lewis County are dealing with. Homes are underwater, with livestock trying to find dry land.

By 2 p.m. Friday, there had been 21 water rescues of people trapped at the confluence of the three swollen rivers.

“I am four minutes from there by the GPS,” said Alex Crueger, standing near I-5 in Centralia. “And I can’t get home, that’s correct.”

Crueger got off work in Olympia early Friday afternoon, but he hasn’t been able to get home because water from the Skookumchuck River is covering his route.

“Our neighborhood seems to be okay back by the house, but the roads going into the neighborhood,” Crueger said, wincing. “It looks like I might have to wait until tomorrow before the waters come down to get home.”

With the waters from the Chehalis and the Newaukum Rivers also rising overnight, about 1,400 Centralia residents were advised to evacuate.

Some of them ended up at a Red Cross shelter set up at the Centralia Middle School.

“On our particular street, on South Diamond, the water level has gotten underneath our house,” said Sarah Fried of Centralia. “So, we had decided to go ahead and come over here where we’re safe and dry while the water is still climbing.”

That Red Cross shelter will remain open until the emergency is over.

Lewis County officials say the Skookumchuck is slated to crest late Friday tonight. The Chehalis is expected to follow six hours later.

Concerns remain that the water will continue to rise until early Saturday.