Update on Coast Guard flood rescue operations

SEATTLE – The Coast Guard, in support to the Washington and Oregon states Emergency Operation Centers, has assisted in the rescue and evacuation of more than 160 people and six pets who became stranded due to recent flooding in the Pacific Northwest this week.

Other agencies currently engaged in this regional disaster response include, but are not limited to; Lewis and Mason County Sheriff departments, King County, Washington State Air National Guard and Washington State National Guard.

The most recent case involved the rescue of a pregnant woman near Pacific City, Wash., by a rescue helicopter crew homeported out of Air Station Port Angeles, Wash.

To support these extensive operations, the Coast Guard has brought in assets from San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., to maintain mission capability throughout the Pacific Northwest. The Coast Guard is receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Coast Guard Auxiliary with communication capabilities after regional communication blackouts.

The Coast Guard has reached out to more than 500 volunteers through the regional network known as the Citizen’s Action Network to assist in identifying mariners or persons in distress, pollution incidents occurring from the floods and aids to navigation discrepancies.

In anticipation of the storm, the Coast Guard closed all river bars from Tillamook, Ore., north to the Straits of Juan De Fuca. The Columbia River and Tillamook River Bars remain closed. The Coast Guard has reopened the Grays Harbor bar. The Coast Guard anticipates the Dungeness crab fishermen will resume the fishery once severe weather and sea conditions clear.

No serious spill events have been reported, however, it is expected that spills from oil storage tanks, industrial sites and individual vehicles will cause minor spills throughout the affected region. The Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, along with other state agencies, will have response personnel available to monitor the situation.

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