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Second round of heavy rain swamps parts of Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. -- People in the Northwest kept a wary eye on rising rivers and faced another messy morning commute as rain and wind that have caused flooding and landslides kept up the onslaught.

Officials advised residents in affected areas to avoid traveling and to watch for flash floods, mudslides, falling trees and power outages and to avoid driving through high water.

A second barrage of heavy rains Tuesday hit the Portland area and western Washington, and the rain soaked already saturated ground, pushing many area creeks and rivers to flood stage as residents in some communities stacked sandbags prevent further flooding.

Record-setting rainfall this week caused a number of problems throughout the Portland metro area, including flooded businesses, damaged vehicles and roads that washed out, reports the CBS affiliate in the city, KOIN-TV.

Cowlitz County, Washington declared an emergency in each of its cities Tuesday night in response to major flooding.

Several landslides were reported. One wiped out a residence and trapped the homeowner. The victim was taken to the hospital after being rescued by emergency crews.

Business owners in downtown Kalama, Washington used sandbags to protect their property as water rushed through the streets, KOIN says.

Andy Haner, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle, said Tuesday night that every major river in western Washington is either already at or will rise to at least a minor flood stage over the next few days.

"This is a pretty significant flood event," he said, due to what the service is calling a parade of storms.

Major flooding was predicted for the Snoqualmie, Snohomish and Skykomish rivers north of Seattle, Haner said.

In Kent, Washington, the American Red Cross said in a news release that it had responded to apartment flooding that affected two families.

Many roadways were closed Tuesday night and passenger rail service was halted in the Portland and Seattle areas.

Amtrak closed tracks between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, because of high waters north of Portland Union Station. Passengers using the Amtrak Cascades service will be taken by bus around the closed areas. Coast Starlight and Empire Builder trains will be rerouted through the area.

Earlier Tuesday, commuter train and Amtrak services were cancelled between Seattle and Everett because of a landslide on the tracks.

The National Weather Service's flood watch for much of northwest Oregon and western Washington remains in effect through Thursday afternoon.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said Tuesday night landslides and high water have been reported on most of the major state highways including U.S. Highway 30, U.S. Highway 101 and Oregon Route 47, making travel hazardous.

Officials were also trying to figure out how to repair massive sinkholes that opened up on Monday - one in front of Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, a Portland suburb, and another on Highway 22 in Yamhill County. The college remained closed on Tuesday.

In the Portland area, nearly 5,200 customers were without power Tuesday night while the number had dropped in the Puget Sound region to about 1,500 customers.

Several school districts cancelled classes or evening activities. The Oregon Zoo remained closed for the second day in a row. Officials in Gladstone issued a health alert after raw sewage overflowed into the Clackamas River.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department also issued a beach safety alert on Tuesday for coast visitors, as strong winds and extremely high waves are in the forecast. A high wind warning remains in effect until early Wednesday morning, with gusts on beaches and headlands potentially reaching up to 70 mph, the National Weather Service reports.

The service predicts waves could break on shore at up to 40 feet high - higher than a two-story building - tossing logs and debris on shore. Already, several beach areas have been closed because of flooding and winds. A flood watch is also in effect on the central coast through Thursday.

The heavy rains didn't stop the Portland Timbers' victory parade celebrating the team's MLS Cup championship.

Even more rain was expected to fall in the region Wednesday and into Thursday. The rains are the result of several low-pressure systems moving through the region, forecasters said.

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