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. Flood damage in northwest US may run into billions: governor

A Washington State Department of Transportation car heads south on Interstate 5 in Chehalis, Washington, 06 December 2007. The freeway has been closed since 05 December when the rain swollen Chehalis River breached its banks. The bill from the devastating storms that pounded the northwestern US states of Washington and Oregon could run into billions of dollars, local reports have said. The full extent of damage from the storms, which left three people dead and submerged vast swathes of coastal residential areas, was still being assessed as mopping up operations continued. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Seattle, Washington (AFP) Dec 5, 2007
The bill from devastating storms that pounded the northwestern US states of Washington and Oregon could run into billions of dollars, local reports said Wednesday.

The full extent of damage from the storms, which have left three people dead and submerged vast swathes of coastal residential areas, was still being assessed on Wednesday as mopping up operations continued.

However Washington governor Christine Gregoire told reporters at a news conference that she expected the damage to be several billion dollars.

"I can't imagine it's something short of billions based on what I saw," Gregoire was quoted as saying by the Seattle Times.

Gregoire flew over some of the hardest hit areas on Tuesday and has declared a state of emergency in the region. "All you can see is just the peaks of the roofs. It's hard to comprehend," Gregoire told the Times.

Authorities are still unclear about the scale of the disaster, local media reports said, saying there were no estimates on the numbers of people who have been displaced, were without water or stranded.

There was also no information on the numbers of homes that have suffered damage or been destroyed.

The powerful storm barreled in from the Pacific Ocean on Monday, battering both states with wind gusts of more than 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, downing power lines and trees up and down the coast.

Snowstorms made several mountain roads impassable, while rivers and streams overflowed their banks forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

The main highway linking Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, was cut off by three meters (10 feet) of water from the overflowing Chehalis River, said Washington Transport Department spokeswoman Alissa Bateman.

Officials said 40 roads in the region have been reopened while 20 remained closed.

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Massive landslide threatening homes in central Austria: authorities
Vienna (AFP) Dec 1, 2007
A massive landslide was threatening dozens of houses on the banks of Traunsee lake in central Austria, local authorities said Saturday.

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