Governor declares emergency in 16 Wash. counties

Associated Press Modified: July 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm •  Published: July 23, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday proclaimed a state of emergency for 16 Washington counties hit by a series of recent storms. Most of the counties are in the eastern half of the state.

One death in northeast Washington's Ferry County is considered storm-related, the governor said.

A series of storms that started July 13 have caused power outages, fuel shortages and road closures that threaten some at-risk populations, Gregoire said.

High winds, severe thunderstorms and extreme rainfall have damaged homes, businesses and public buildings.

The proclamation directs state agencies to "do everything reasonably possible" to help affected communities recover.

After a fierce thunder and rain storm last Friday, Ferry County and the Colville Tribes asked for state assistance.

The small community of Keller on the Colville Reservation was pummeled by the storm, with downed trees blocking roads, crushing power lines and damaging houses.

KHQ-TV reports the Keller Community Center has been functioning as the town's hub.

"Everyone comes here. This is the place to be," said volunteer Corrie Johnson. The community center has been offering meals and shelter to those who need it.

Winds in northeast Washington hit 66 mph during Friday's storm, National Weather Service meteorologist John Livingston told the Spokesman-Review.

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