NW storm cuts power, thousands try to stay warm

By Manuel Valdes

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Jan. 21 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

"Just a godsend," said Ko, a Korean immigrant who has owned the store for six years. "Good person, amazing persons."

Elsewhere in the Willamette Valley, a 35-year-old woman who drove a Ford Mustang into 4 feet of floodwater was plucked from the roof Friday by deputies who arrived by boat to save her. It was one of a number of dramatic rescues in western Oregon, left sodden by as much as 10 inches of rain in a day and a half that has brought region's worst flooding in 15 years.

Interstate 5, the main road connecting Seattle and Portland, was briefly closed near Centralia so crews could remove fallen power lines.

Much of Washington's capital, Olympia, was without power.

Gov. Chris Gregoire's office, legislative buildings and other state agencies in Olympia lost electricity for several hours before power was restored. The governor thanked repair crews late Friday by hand-delivering peanut butter cookies.

The storm was "a constant reminder of who's in charge. Mother Nature is in charge, she gives us a wake-up call every once in a while, this is one of those," Gregoire said.

It was still snowing in the Cascades, with up to 2 feet possible in the mountains over the weekend.

At Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, airlines were trying to accommodate passengers whose flights were canceled Thursday. The airport's largest carrier, Alaska Airlines, canceled 50 of its 120 daily departures Friday. On Thursday, Alaska and sister airline Horizon canceled 310 flights to and from Seattle, affecting 29,000 passengers.

In Seattle, Carly Nelson was negotiating an icy sidewalk on her way to Starbucks. Nelson has been frequenting her neighborhood coffee shop to avoid cabin fever.

"I'm pretty tired of it. It gets old pretty fast. All my friends are stranded in little pockets and you can't get together to go to yoga," she said. "I'm just looking forward to being able to go wherever I want to go."

Cooper reported from Oregon. Associated Press writers Doug Esser, Ted Warren, Rachel La Corte, Nigel Duara and Nicholas K. Geranios contributed to this report.

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