Raging Sandy River driving hundreds from homes on the slopes of Mount Hood near Zig Zag

By Stuart Tomlinson, The Oregonian

Swollen by heavy rain and rapid snowmelt, the Sandy River rampaged through residential areas on the slopes of Mount Hood this morning, tearing away homes, cars and trucks.

It also ripped out at large portions of East Lolo Pass Road.

The river basically changed its course, crashing through people's yards that just days before had been sylvan, riverside settings.

But early afternoon today, hundreds of people who had been driven from their homes could be seen walking out of area above Zig Zag Village, carrying suitcases and other items as they escape the area where some homes appear to have been swallowed by the river. More appear to be in danger.

Hoodland Fire Department officials are sending teams on foot and on ATVs in an attempt to reach about 150 to 200 residents stranded by the washout of East Lolo Pass Road near Zig Zag while others are coming out on their own.

The river is so full and forceful that it has changed its course in some areas and appears to be threatening more homes by the minute.

Lt. John Creel said about 30 to 40 homes were cut off when the Sandy River took out East Lolo Pass Road about 1 1/2 miles east of the bridge over the Sandy River Sunday night.

"And they have no power," Creel said.

Creel said about 30 rescuers are walking and riding through the forest in an attempt to establish at least a foot trail to get people out. And some of those who were cut off have started to walk out.

"Hopefully by 2 p.m. we will establish that route and then we can go from there," Creel said.

The National Weather Service said as much as 6 to 10 inches of rain fell in about 24 hours in a bullseye that included the Sandy River drainage.

Tyree Wilde, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said 6.16 inches of rain fell at Government Camp during the storm; an additional 2 inches of snow melted on the flanks of Mt. Hood.

Creel said there were reports of at least two homes that were damaged from the flood waters near Welches.

Homes in the area were also without power