SEASIDE - Oregon Department Of Transportation officials were kept busy rescuing at least six drivers who had been swamped in extremely high water on U.S. Highway 101 south of Seaside Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
And the high water forced ODOT officials to turn away low-profile cars on the highway from south Seaside to the U.S. Highway 26 junction. However, the highway would remain open as long as possible to larger vehicles with higher clearance, said Steve Larkins, an ODOT Transportation Maintenance Coordinator.
At 9 a.m. there was 16 inches of water on the blacktop and water was rising quickly. The Necanicum River was overflowing its banks from the Circle Creek Campground down to the junction with 26.
"There's at least two miles of high water out there," Larkins said. "There's only about three-quarters of a mile, if that, where the road isn't covered."
Seaside Police officer Scott Symonds spent early Thursday morning monitoring traffic. He and ODOT officials on site turned away any car that had low clearance, including station wagons, sedans and sports cars. Large SUVs, large pickup trucks and semi-trucks were allowed to continue on the highway, but were cautioned to drive very slowly and use four-wheel drive.
"Are there angry people? Oh, yeah," Symonds said. "Everybody wants to go somewhere and a lot of people are needing to get to work."
Seaside resident Jarrod Jackson was on his way to work in Cannon Beach when Symonds instructed him to turn around. Jackson said he would have tried to drive his station wagon through if not instructed otherwise.
"I'll go get a cup of coffee and call my boss," he said. "My boss is OK with me not being able to make it down in bad weather."
The heavy rains have caused land to slide onto the north-bound portion of the U.S. Highway 101 north Cannon Beach entrance ramp causing ODOT officials to close the ramp.
Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue Chief Cleve Rooper said the slide looks like several dump trucks of moving mud.
The slide is about 200 yards south of an area that slid in early December, also after heavy rains.
"It's not as big as the earlier one, but it's a pretty good-sized hole," said Kip Breitmeyer of Seaside, who was driving past the scene this morning.
And it looks like the flooding will continue tonight, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A flood watch was issued through 4 p.m. Saturday and up to seven inches of rain was predicted through Friday night. Flood warnings have been issued for the Nehalem and Necanicum rivers and other rivers and streams throughout Clatsop and Tillamook counties. A high wind warning has also been issued for the area through Friday morning, with winds from 20 to 30 miles per hour and gusts up to 60 miles per hour. However, no tsunami warning has been issued, after Wednesday's 6.6 magnitude earthquake in Buru, Indonesia, although some beaches may experience "sneaker" or high waves.
ODOT officials and Seaside Fire Chief Joe Dotson reminded drivers to use extreme caution and drive slowly on wet roads.
"People just don't realize how susceptible their vehicle is to water damage," said David Sutkowski, an ODOT Transportation Maintenance Specialist. "They think they're invincible. And a lot of times, a larger car will just power through and drown other smaller cars in their wake. You've got to think about common courtesy."
Seaside Public Works employees also spent Thursday morning monitoring storm drains around the city and did not report any major problems.
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