Northwest News Network

Regional Public Journalism from twelve public radio stations throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Residents of the Okanogan Valley have been battling floodwaters for more than a week. But floods are not a new thing here. There have been two major floods in previous decades.

The Northwest’s only commercial nuclear reactor went offline Friday morning in an unplanned event. The Columbia Generating Station went offline around 7 a.m. when its main power transformers automatically disconnected from the grid.

One night about a year ago, the lights in Brian's Tacoma apartment suddenly went out. He was in his bedroom. When he walked out to see what had happened, he said he found his adult daughter who lived with him had stuck a bread knife into an electrical outlet.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning in Okanogan County as slow moving storms could bring heavy rain to the region. 
Eleven rivers in north central and eastern Washington state are already near flood stage or higher.

Emergency crews have been preparing for high water in Washington state's Okanogan Valley since early in the month. The Okanogan River hasn’t even crested yet, but they’re already starting to think about what happens when the flood is over.

Emergency management officials are trying to protect drinking water systems throughout the Okanogan Valley from flood water contamination.

The stories of patients and their families are critical to learning more about how state government operates and how our mental health system is functioning. They also shed light on personal struggles with mental health and fight the stigma attached to psychiatric disorders.

The state is currently trying to reshape the hospital and improve our long-struggling mental health system. The issue will likely be at the forefront of the Legislature's 2019 session, which begins in January.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has said she’s calling a special session next week to correct a simple matter of unfairness in state tax policy. But the first public hearing on Brown’s proposal Wednesday suggested debate could be anything but simple.

Crews with the Washington Department of Transportation have been working for two days to fortify a stretch of U.S. Highway 97 threatened by the rising Okanogan River.

A few days ago, there were a few small piles of sandbags, some cones and a sign warned drivers to slow down at Milepost 313.

Prosecutor Kevin Barton will take the helm of the Washington County District Attorney’s Office next year, after overcoming a forceful challenge from opponent Max Wall in the most expensive DA race Oregon’s ever seen.

Washington drivers who are thinking about buying an electric car would be wise to get down to a dealership in the next two weeks. That's because a valuable tax break disappears at month's end.

Oregon Voters Select Val Hoyle As New Labor Commissioner

May 16, 2018

Former lawmaker Val Hoyle appeared poised to secure victory in the heated race for Oregon labor commissioner on Tuesday, becoming just the second woman to oversee the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) in 115 years.

Former Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley Tuesday lost a motion to have his conviction for possession of stolen funds tossed out. But a federal judge in Tacoma did grant two of Kelley’s other motions.

It’s been a busy day along Highway 97 near Tonasket, Washington, as trucks haul sand and sandbags to communities that could be affected by extreme flooding along the Okanogan River. The river first crested last Saturday.

But residents are bracing for more.

The National Weather Service is predicting possible thunderstorms later this week around the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, Washington. That could cause the Eightmile Lake Dam above the town to fail.

And a simmering dispute between the local irrigation district and the U.S. Forest Service isn’t helping.

Volunteers joined emergency crews this week to brace for the possibility of major flooding on a number of rivers in north central and eastern Washington state.

The combination of a near-record snowpack in southern British Columbia and temperatures soaring into the upper 80s has caused flood watches starting at the U.S.-Canada border running south along the Okanogan River.

Correspondent Emily Schwing is on the scene and sent back these photos.

In farm fields from the Willamette Valley to the Kittitas Valley and east to Idaho, energy developers want to plant a new crop: commercial solar arrays. But a surge in utility-scale solar farm applications is generating pushback.

Two embattled Washington state representatives have filed to run for re-election—despite ongoing investigations into their conduct.

Democrat David Sawyer of Tacoma and Republican Matt Manweller of Ellensburg both registered their candidacies with the Secretary of State’s office on Monday, the first day of filing week.

The National Weather Service is concerned about this week’s warm weather rapidly melting snow upstream of Leavenworth, Washington, this week. There may also be storms on the way.

A number of rivers in north central and eastern Washington are in imminent danger of flooding. That’s because spring temperatures have soared into the upper 80s and Canada’s near record snowpack is melting fast.

Flooding hasn’t been this bad in the Okanogan Valley since 1972. This week, forecasters say, it could get close to breaking that record.

Okanogan County Fire District Commissioner Jack Denison said that’s a “worst case scenario.”

Gamblers throughout the country got good news Monday, as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that banned sports betting in most states. That could lead to new betting options in Oregon and Washington, if legislators decide to allow betting on team sports in those states.

Towns in central and northeast Washington are under flood watches as rivers swell from rapid snowmelt in the mountains.

In the small Washington border town of Oroville, the Okanogan River is above flood stage and the river is expected to begin flooding south as the week progresses.

A nearly 100 year-old dam near Leavenworth, Washington, is under heavy pressure from melting snow this week and officials are warning downstream residents to be prepared to evacuate if the dam breaks.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency for nearly all of Central and Eastern Washington. 20 counties are facing heavy flooding as rapidly melting snow makes its way into rivers and streams.

For the last several years, Washington state lawmakers have been working on a response to a state Supreme Court order to fully fund schools. Now they’re signaling a shift to the next big challenge: mental health.

At a news conference Friday at Western State Hospital, Republican state Sen. Steve O’Ban framed Washington’s mental health crisis this way:

“I kind of think of this as, this is a bad analogy perhaps, but McCleary Two,” he said.

Specially trained rescuers have managed to free a whale that was tangled in fishing gear off the Washington coast. But they say the prognosis for the young gray whale is "guarded."

Two of Washington state’s top elected prosecutors say the state is failing to adequately address an epidemic of drug addiction. They say it’s a major contributor to crime, but also to homelessness.

If you somehow still need proof that a movement to outlaw military-style, semi-automatic weapons in Oregon is a big deal, look no further than Dennis Richardson’s inbox.

In what is likely a record, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office in recent weeks fielded nearly 1,600 pages of comments criticizing a ballot title for Initiative Petition 43.

It’s a record year for flooding in northeastern Washington as spring runoff makes its way into the region’s rivers.

Portland may become the first city in the Pacific Northwest to require all owners of old brick buildings to make earthquake safety upgrades. But being on the leading edge is not a comfortable place.

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