WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. authorities scrambled on Thursday to keep streets open in parts of Washington state after flooding in parts was reported overnight and a series of storms forced them to close for the second time in a week.
“I can’t tell you the number of cars and trucks that were stopped in the rain and snow overnight,” said Stephanie Osterman, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Emergency Relief and Works Agency (ERWSA).
“It’s just been a very difficult, challenging situation.”
The agency said it was coordinating with local authorities to reopen streets and bridges, with an estimated 3.4 million people still without power in some areas.
More than 2,000 homes have been damaged by flash flooding in the Seattle area and about 600,000 people in southern Washington state.
The U.T.S., a non-profit group, said the worst of the storms that pounded the state over the past week were “very violent and dangerous” with a heavy concentration of flooding in Seattle.
Heavy rain and lightning in the area on Thursday caused trees to collapse, and roads were closed and blocked by fallen branches.
Authorities are expecting to reopen the highway system on Friday, but Ostermacher said it would take a few days.
“We know that we’re going to have to work on some of those roads a little bit better,” she said.
“It’s going to take a while for some of these roads to get cleared,” she added.