Storm Damage Prompts State of Emergency in Washington

3 dead, thousands without power after Northwest windstorm 1:32

A state of emergency was declared in Washington state late Wednesday after a deadly storm blew down trees, triggered mudslides and left thousands of people without power.

The decision by Governor Jay Inslee activated the state’s National Guard and cleared the way for state officials to ramp up aid for those suffering storm damage, according to NBC affiliate KING5.

"Many roads are closed from downed trees, active power lines, flood waters," Snohomish County Fire Chief Merlin Halverson said Wednesday. "It's a hell of (a) mess here."

Several rivers overflowed after Tuesday's storm dumped more rain over already-saturated western Washington. The towns of Sultan, Stanwood, Arlington and Granite Falls were just some of the communities coping with high water on Wednesday.

A wide swath of the Puget Sound region continued to be under flood watches and warnings late Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service office tweeted that the power outages are among the most extensive ever seen in Spokane's history.

Electric utility Avista said 70 percent of its 181,000 Spokane County customers were without power shortly after midnight early Wednesday. The utility warned it could take three to five days to restore services.

Several highways also remained closed, including a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 84 in Oregon that authorities declared impassable into midday Wednesday. Several other highways remained closed, Washington state police said.

Image: A bus stop and a car sit in the flooded waters of the Stillaguamish River in Stanwood, Washington
A bus stop and a car sit in the flooded waters of the Stillaguamish River in Stanwood, Wash. on Nov. 18. DAVID RYDER / Reuters

At least three people were confirmed to have died in storm-related accidents, authorities in Washington state said.

Grant Strinden, 23, of Monroe died instantly when a tree fell onto his car said Merlin Halverson, a Snohomish County Fire Chief told NBC station KOMO.

"I can't picture a life without him. I don't know why something like this could happen," said Ariana Duncan, a friend of Strinden's, who told the station that he had recently gotten engaged.

A woman in her 50s was also killed in her car by a falling tree in Spokane and another driver was killed in a fatal collision with a tree near Cheney in eastern Washington, police said.